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Unexplained Weight Gain Could Be a Sign of Thyroid Disorder
“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, MD, a board-certified physician specializing in Endocrinology at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic.
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
- Bouts of depression
“If left untreated, hypothyroidism can cause serious health consequences, including obesity and heart problems,” says Dr. Lee.
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 nearly 30 million Americans who are estimated to suffer from thyroid dysfunction, most have hypothyroidism, according to the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists. Hypothyroidism also affects women 10 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.