When To See A Doctor
In most cases, weight gain with hyperthyroidism is probably nothing to worry about, especially if you previously lost a lot of weight due to your initially untreated condition. However, if youre gaining a lot of weight or have other uncomfortable symptoms, it might indicate a new problem. Talk to your doctor about finding the right course of treatment for you.
Weight gain alone is generally not a sign of a thyroid problem. But weight gain alongside the following symptoms can indicate hypothyroidism:
Who Do Thyroid Nodules Affect
Anyone can have a thyroid nodule, including children and adults. However, theyre about four times more common in people assigned female at birth than people assigned male at birth.
They also occur more often in people who live in countries in which food isnt fortified with iodine.
Other factors that lead to an increased risk of thyroid nodules include:
What Is Thyroid Cancer
Thyroid cancer describes any cancer that originates in the thyroid. There are several types, and they can be differentiated or undifferentiated. A differentiated cancer is one in which the cells still look healthy, while the undifferentiated disease has abnormal cells. Differentiated cancers are fortunately much more common, as the undifferentiated or anaplastic tumors are both aggressive and hard to treat. Only about two percent of patients are diagnosed with an undifferentiated cancer of the thyroid.
The most common type of thyroid cancer is papillary cancer, which is also called papillary adenocarcinoma or papillary carcinoma. About eighty percent of patients have papillary cancer, which develops slowly and usually affects only one lobe of the thyroid gland. While papillary cancers often spread to the lymph nodes in the neck, they are relatively easy to treat. If caught in time, papillary cancer is rarely lethal.
Follicular cancer is the second-most common type, and it affects about ten percent of patients with cancer of the thyroid. It is more common in places where the local diet is typically deficient in iodine.
Medullary thyroid cancer develops in the thyroid glands C cells. It affects about four percent of patients. MTC can be sporadic or familial the latter runs in families and can affect children. Sporadic MTC affects about 80 percent of MTC patients. MTC is more difficult to detect and treat than some of the other types.
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People Often Blame The Thyroid When They Put On Weight Is It Usually To Blame
Thats one of things that our society overplays. In truth, the weight gain associated with untreated hypothyroidism is generally just a few pounds were not talking 50 or 60. Your thyroid doesnt make you crave food its more of a slowing of metabolism that makes it harder to burn calories.
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Most often, doctors avoid radioactive iodine and sometimes dont perform surgery at all, just surveillanceespecially with common small papillary thyroid cancers. Patients become concerned when they hear the word cancer applied to a lump in body, but we spend a lot of time explaining why its not the same as being diagnosed with cancers in other parts of the body. Treatments can have consequences and side effects, says Morris.
Even with more advanced cancers requiring surgery, most people dont need radioactive iodine, Morris adds. In the vast majority of cases for papillary thyroid cancer, surgery approaches a 100 percent cure rate, even if its spread to local lymph nodes. But its still critical to diagnose and find early on, adds Lorch. In the rare event that advanced metastatic cancer requires further treatment, its usually with chemo treatments that can help shrink and slow the growth of tumors.
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What Is The Thyroid Gland
The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped endocrine gland that is normally located in the lower front of the neck. The thyroids job is to make thyroid hormones, which are secreted into the blood and then carried to every tissue in the body. Thyroid hormones help the body use energy, stay warm and keep the brain, heart, muscles, and other organs working as they should.
Baseline Characteristics Of Subjects
In total, 11,323,006 adults were included in this study. Baseline characteristics of subjects are shown in Table . The mean age was 50.1±13.7 years and 44% of the subjects were female. The mean height was 163.6±9.3cm and the mean weight was 64.1±11.5kg. The mean BMI was 23.8±3.2kg/m2. In total, 3.3% of subjects were underweight , 37.8% were normal-weight , 25.7% were overweight , 29.9% were obese , and 3.4% were severely obese . The mean WC was 80.8±8.9cm. For a median follow-up time was 4.39 years , a total of 50,464 subjects had newly diagnosed thyroid cancer.
Table 1 Baseline characteristics of subjects.
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Other Signs And Symptoms
Other, more rare or unusual signs of medullary thyroid cancer that you should be aware of include:
- Severe diarrhea. This is a very rare symptom sometimes found in people with advanced medullary thyroid cancer. The tumor produces high levels of calcitonin, a hormone that may cause severe diarrhea.
- Cushing syndrome. In rare cases, adrenal tumors can cause Cushing syndrome, a condition that arises when a tumor secretes hormones that the thyroid wouldnt normal create. Cushing syndrome associated with medullary thyroid cancer is uncommon. The syndrome is more commonly caused by the pituitary gland overproducing adrenocorticotropic hormone , or by taking oral corticosteroid medication.
- Facial flushing. A red face, neck, or chest paired with warm or burning sensations can be a sign of many conditions. Tumors or other abnormal growths can overproduce hormones, triggering flushing. The symptom can also be a response to certain drugs, foods, alcohol, or menopause.
- Bone pain. People with medullary thyroid cancer may have bone pain if the cancer has spread to form bone lesions.
- Lethargy. Many people with advanced cancer may feel physically, emotionally, or mentally tired. The causes of fatigue during cancer are complex and not well understood.
- Weight loss. Unusual weight loss is a symptom of advanced medullary thyroid cancer that has spread beyond the thyroid into other organs.
Last medically reviewed on August 12, 2019
Familiarize Yourself With Medications
Some medications healthcare providers prescribe for thyroid-related symptoms or other conditions can cause weight gain. The following medications are associated with weight gain:
- Antithyroid drugs: Tapazole and PTU
- Beta-blockers: Sectral , Tenormin , and Corgard
- Estrogen and progesterone: Alone or together in hormonal birth control
- Antidepressants: Prozac , Paxil , and Zoloft
- Mood-stabilizing and anticonvulsant drugs: Lithium, Depakote , and Tegretol
If you’re taking any of these medications and you’re gaining weight, talk to your healthcare provider about your concerns. Never stop taking a medication without your healthcare provider’s input.
Thyroid Disease Doctor Discussion Guide
Get our printable guide for your next doctor’s appointment to help you ask the right questions.
Where Thyroid Cancer Starts
The thyroid gland is in the front part of the neck, below the thyroid cartilage . In most people, the thyroid cannot be seen or felt. It is shaped like a butterfly, with 2 lobes the right lobe and the left lobe joined by a narrow piece of gland called the isthmus.
The thyroid gland has 2 main types of cells:
- Follicular cells use iodine from the blood to make thyroid hormones, which help regulate a persons metabolism. Having too much thyroid hormone can cause a fast or irregular heartbeat, trouble sleeping, nervousness, hunger, weight loss, and a feeling of being too warm. Having too little hormone causes a person to slow down, feel tired, and gain weight. The amount of thyroid hormone released by the thyroid is regulated by the pituitary gland at the base of the brain, which makes a substance called thyroid-stimulating hormone .
- C cells make calcitonin, a hormone that helps control how the body uses calcium.
Other, less common cells in the thyroid gland include immune system cells and supportive cells.
Different cancers develop from each kind of cell. The differences are important because they affect how serious the cancer is and what type of treatment is needed.
Many types of growths and tumors can develop in the thyroid gland. Most of these are benign but others are malignant , which means they can spread into nearby tissues and to other parts of the body.
Other Causes Of Hypothyroidism
In some cases, hypothyroidism results from a problem with the pituitary gland, which is at the base of the brain. This gland produces thyroid-stimulating hormone , which tells the thyroid to do its job. If your pituitary gland does not produce enough TSH, levels of thyroid hormones will fall. Other causes of hypothyroidism include temporary inflammation of the thyroid or medications that affect thyroid function.
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What Causes Thyroid Cancer
In most cases, the cause of thyroid cancer is unknown. However, certain things can increase your chances of developing the condition.
Risk factors for thyroid cancer include:
- having a benign thyroid condition
- having a family history of thyroid cancer
- having a bowel condition known as familial adenomatous polyposis
- acromegaly a rare condition where the body produces too much growth hormone
- having a previous benign breast condition
- weight and height
Read more about the causes of thyroid cancer
Sometimes Thyroid Isn’t To Blame
But, Lupo warns, women shouldn’t be too quick to blame their weight gain on thyroid problems rather than on unhealthy eating habits or lack of physical activity.
“I see this every day, people who tell me, ‘I’m overweight , I must have a thyroid problem,’ ” Lupo says. But people with thyroid problems may gain up to 10 to 20 pounds, he says. “Someone who comes to me weighing 300 pounds has other problems.”
Lupo agrees with Kruger, however, that there does need to be more awareness of thyroid problems on the part of both patients and doctors. He’s also convinced that older women particularly should be screened for thyroid function, which can be done with a simple blood test.
“I usually say that women should be screened before their first pregnancy and at age 35 and every five years after that, and every one to two years at age 50 and above,” Lupo says. Because thyroid conditions are less common in men, but can develop with age, he suggests “men get screened at age 65 or if they have symptoms or risk factors.”
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Who Should Be Tested
If you think you have symptoms of a thyroid problem, ask your doctor if you should be tested. People with symptoms or risk factors may need tests more often. Hypothyroidism more frequently affects women over age 60. Hyperthyroidism is also more common in women. A family history raises your risk of either disorder.
I Have A Lump On My Thyroid Now What
Thyroid cancer diagnoses have increased from 17,000 in 2002 to 57,000 in 2012. Even so, it’s still relatively uncommon and has a high survival rate 97 percent after five years, says Jose C. Dutra, M.D., director of the thyroid surgical clinic at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.
Dutra and other experts believe that the spike in diagnoses is due to the wider use of MRI and CT scans, which can detect tiny lumps that can’t be touched. “Ninety percent of all enlargements are not cancerous,” he says.
Finally, about six months ago, one of her doctors heard about a new type of thyroid drug and sent Kruger to Mark Lupo, M.D., a thyroid specialist in Sarasota. He prescribed Tirosint, a liquid gel cap form of levothyroxine sodium, the thyroid hormone replacement pill commonly used to treat hypothyroidism.
Although drugs can work differently in each individual, Tirosint’s liquid form seemed to do the trick for Kruger: She dropped 20 pounds in six months. “And when I get up in the morning, I don’t feel like someone has beat me with a stick,” she says. More importantly, her heart problems have improved.
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Health Benefits Of Cbd For Thyroid
CBD boasts antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that may be beneficial for thyroid health. Evidence suggests that CBD oil may help regulate thyroid hormone levels in the body and reduce symptoms associated with certain thyroid disorders.
CBD interacts with the bodys endocannabinoid system a vast network of specialized receptors located throughout the body that helps the body maintain homeostasis . The ECS plays a role in regulating important body functions, including appetite, mood, memory, fertility, body temperature, immune response, and pain perception.
The ECS has receptorsknown as endocannabinoid receptorsthroughout the body, including the thyroid gland. These receptors are also found in brain regions responsible for sending signals to the thyroid gland that controls thyroid hormone production. Research shows that the ECS plays a role in regulating hormones and thyroid health.
Though the exact mechanisms of how CBD interacts with the body’s ECS are not yet fully understood, CBD binds to endocannabinoid receptors in the thyroid gland to help support thyroid functions. CBD is known to alleviate certain symptoms associated with thyroid disorders, such as:
Though there is little research exploring the effect of CBD on specific thyroid disorders, CBD’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties may offer therapeutic benefits for people with thyroid conditions.
Can Thyroid Hormone Be Used To Help Me Lose Weight
Thyroid hormones have been used as a weight loss tool in the past. Starting or increasing thyroid hormone to cause thyroid hormone levels to be elevated is unlikely to dramatically change weight. Studies have shown that excess thyroid hormone treatment can help produce more weight loss than can be achieved by dieting alone, but includes the risk of major negative consequences from the use of thyroid hormone to help with weight loss, such as the loss of muscle protein, loss of bone, and/or heart problems. Furthermore, once the excess thyroid hormone is stopped, any weight loss is usually regained.
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Unraveling The Thyroid Cancer
Excess weight and thyroid cancer risk are linked, experts know. Kitahara and her team reconfirmed this, looking at 22 studies that had been published in medical journals and reanalyzing the results, publishing them in Thyroid. These studies included more than 830,000 men and more than 1.2 million women all had submitted information on height, body mass index , and waist circumference.²
The higher the BMI throughout adulthood, the higher the risk of getting thyroid cancer and dying from it, the analysis found.²
Experts have long thought that , which tells your thyroid to make and release thyroid hormones, plays a role in , since it influences the growth of thyroid cells. According to Kitahara, if someone has low thyroid function, their TSH is high, and the thyroid hormones known as and are lowand weight gain often occurs.
If someone has an overactive thyroid, or hyperthyroidism, TSH is usually low, the T3 and T4 are high, and weight loss occurs.
For more clues about which way the link goes, Kitahara’s team has looked at those with normal thyroid function . “Research on euthyroid individuals has produced conflicting results, which suggests a bi-directonality,” she says.
Small variations in weight in persons with normal thyroid function can affect levels of thyroid hormones, Kitahara found: “In euthyroid patients, weight loss lowers TSH and T3, while weight gain raises TSH and T3.”¹
How Much Weight Do You Gain With Hypothyroidism
About half of people with hypothyroidism experience some weight gain. Most people usually gain only 5 to 10 pounds however, some women can gain more, especially if the hypothyroidism is severe. While most of the weight gain is mainly increased salt and water retention, some of it can be due to increased fat gain.
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Side Effects Start To Hit Hard
Being done with surgery and radiation was the strangest feeling, like when someone dies and you’re so busy with the arrangements and guests and food…and then the next day, you’re alone. That’s how I felt. Sometimes, I also felt like I had a big secret.
I did quickly realize that I was now part of the Big C club, and that meant I would require a lifetime of medication and tests. Every three to six months I had to see my doctors for blood work, and I needed an ultrasound twice a year. It was a dizzying experience juggling those responsibilities, especially because I was also back to taking care of Jack, running our home, and working as an editor. I tried to stay upbeat and positive.
As vain as it sounds, gaining weight was the toughest side effect of my journey. I had always been small-boned and fit. I prided myself on eating clean and exercising. As a mother, I wanted to be in shape, racing Jack around the track and hiking up hills with him and Lucy. And yes, as a single woman, I wanted to look a certain waynot skinny, but the way I did before cancer. Instead, I found myself pathetically crying in my closet in a pile of size two jeans that no longer fit.
Can Thyroid Disease Trigger Other Mental Health Conditions
Anxiety is not the only mental health concern that can be caused by thyroid disorders. As Dr. Wachter mentioned, hypothyroidism is associated with symptoms of depression. When the bodys internal functions are too slow, the resulting sluggish, low feeling can be one component of feeling depressed.
Since a small percentage of cases of depression can be linked to thyroid disorders, Dr. Wachter recommends testing for thyroid disorders in any individual with new depression symptoms.
Because of the way hyperthyroidism works in the body, it can cause symptoms that closely mimic symptoms of anxiety. Sometimes, it can even be associated with panic attacks.
For most people with anxiety, however, its very unlikely that their anxiety symptoms are caused by an underlying thyroid condition.
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