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Today in Health & Wellness

Weighty Issue

"Metabolism, thyroid problems, and what to do"
By: Vanessa ValenzuelaWeighty Issue

The common denominator between weight and thyroid problems is metabolism. The hormone thyroxine is responsible for regulating the body’s metabolism. When there is too much thyroxine produced, it triggers a faster metabolic rate, which makes you burn calories faster than you usually do. On the other hand, if thyroxine is not enough, your metabolic rate becomes abnormally slow, which causes you to store calories longer that you should.

Metabolic rate can be determined by measuring the amount of oxygen used by your body over a period of time. If the metabolic rate is measured at rest, it is known as the basal metabolic rate or BMR. Doctors today, however, no longer use BMR as a test for thyroid status. Later studies have shown that BMR may be influenced by many other factors apart from thyroid activity: age, sex, weight, pregnancy, climate, medication, other hormonal imbalances (i.e. adrenaline), and certain lifestyle indicators like stress levels or amount of physical activity.

The obvious side effect of hypothyroidism is weight gain caused by a decrease in BMR. How much you gain depends on the severity of the thyroid condition, but generally it ranges between 5-10 pounds. The treatment for hypothyroidism is intake of thyroid hormone replacement pills.

For hyperthyroidism, your doctor may discuss several options with you. You may be given medication that blocks the effects of thyroxine overproduction. Your doctor may also suggest removal of the thyroid gland through radioactive iodine treatment or surgery.

If you have a goiter, the mass or lump needs to be further tested to determine if it is benign or malignant or cancerous. If the results of the tests come out as either “indeterminate,” “suspicious” or suggestive of cancer, then the mass may need to be removed.

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