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Unexplained Weight Gain Could Be a Sign of Thyroid Disorder

I’ve been feeling sluggish and gaining unexplained weight. Could this be a thyroid problem?​

“Yes. A general lack of energy coupled with unexplained weight gain could signal hypothyroidism – a condition in which the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough hormone,” says Tri Lee, M.D., a board certified physician specializing in Endocrinology at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic.

Dr. Lee says other symptoms of hypothyroidism may include sensitivity to cold; dry skin and hair; irregular menstrual cycles; elevated blood cholesterol levels; unexplained swelling of the hands and feet; and bouts of depression.

“If left untreated, hypothyroidism can cause serious health consequences, including obesity and heart problems,” he says.

The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland in the lower part of the neck over the trachea. It produces hormones that govern metabolism, such as your heart rate and how quickly calories are burned.

Of the millions of Americans who experience thyroid disorders every year, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists estimates that 80 percent of those cases are for hypothyroidism, which affects women five times more than men.

“If you experience symptoms such as weight gain and fatigue – especially if you are a woman older than 50 – tell your doctor. A simple screening test can tell if you have hypothyroidism. Once diagnosed, your doctor can prescribe medications to help manage your thyroid levels,” concludes Dr. Lee, who cares for patients at Kelsey-Seybold’s Kingwood and Main Campus clinic locations.

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Tri Lee, MD

​Patients and I work as a team in optimizing their treatments. I provide them with comprehensive information about their diseases and review management options. Then, together, we decide which treatment is best-suited for their condition.​