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Any connection between Under Active Thyroid and weight gain?

(33 Posts)
Sbagran Mon 23-Jul-12 20:05:43

Do any of our medically brainy Gransnetters have any knowledge of thyroid issues?
Three months ago I had a load of blood tests done among which was the test for thyroid activity. When the result came back it was a bit suspect and so I had to have a retest done last week. I am still awaiting the result but according to the nurse who took the blood test it looks like I may well have an under-active thyroid.
A work colleague has told me that one of the symptoms of an under-active thyroid is weight gain?
I have been a regular contributor on the weekly weigh-in thread and all my mates on there will know how frustrated I have been at working so hard - gym/swim and walking; plus eating sensibly - yet staying the same weight.
I have a possible theory - could it be that (assuming the nurse was right and it is confirmed that I have an under-active thyroid) following all my exercise and good dieting I am actually losing weight, but the under-active thyroid is causing weight gain and the two are balancing each other out so I weigh the same?
Would be really grateful for any information - I get the results on Thursday or Friday and if under-active thyroid is confirmed and I am put on medication will all my efforts at weight loss be rewarded (pretty please emoticon!)

jeni Mon 23-Jul-12 20:10:52

Yes! Hypothyroidism can cause weight gain!

Gagagran Mon 23-Jul-12 20:56:44

Sorry Sbagran, having been diagnosed with hypothyroidism some years ago I too hoped that the thyroxine medication (which you have to take for life) which was prescribed, would be a magic bullet and my lifelong weight problem would cease.

Well it didn't! In fact the struggle to lose weight continues and it feels as if I am fighting an un-winnable battle with my own metabolism. The advice flows thick and fast - "eat less" "take more exercise" etc. and it is so dispiriting when you are already doing that but still the wretched flab won't shift. Coming from stocky and overweight parents, who both lived to 93, I am beginning to think that some genes just won't be overridden and I have to put up with it.

Good luck though, your genes may be more amenable to slenderness than mine! sunshine

jeni Mon 23-Jul-12 21:11:04

Sorry, but because the basal metabolic rate slows in hypo thyroidism, it can contribute to obesity! I'm not saying its the sole cause.

GillieB Mon 23-Jul-12 21:11:53

I agree one hundred percent with what Gagagran has said. I, too, suffer from an underactive thyroid and I have been taking medication for a number of years, but I still can't get the weight off. However, when you start taking thyroxine you will start to feel better.

baNANA Mon 23-Jul-12 21:25:48

Ditto Gagagrab and GillieB, have been on thyroxine for about 10 years now, used to top the scales at around 9 stone, stuck at a couple of stone over that for the past 5 years or so. Never quite sure whether tiredness and weight gain are down to under active thyroid or the menopause.

baNANA Mon 23-Jul-12 21:27:53

Sorry typed Gagagrab instead of Gagagran my apologies.

granjura Mon 23-Jul-12 21:45:34

Same here. Was undiagnosed for a long time.

shysal Mon 23-Jul-12 22:31:53

I had the opposite problem, a hyperactive thyroid, but when I was on medication (Carbimazole) which slowed everything down, I gained about 2 stone. It seems you can't win either way with thyroid!
I have been off the tablets for some time now but losing the extra pounds is proving difficult. I used the old Weight Watchers points method, following it to the letter and shifted 4 lb a week for the first 3 weeks then came to a standstill, where I am now, with 3 weeks weighing the same.
Good luck sbagran

goldengirl Tue 24-Jul-12 08:22:04

I've been on thyroxine for a couple of years now and am also finding it difficult to lose the weight I gained [possibly because I loathe exercise as well - see other threads!]. I still get occasional bouts of real tiredness too and can't do as much as I think I ought. This could be an age thing but could also be attributed to the fact that I am a busy person outside the home. Perhaps it would help if I did some housework - I've heard that's good exercise!

Granb Tue 24-Jul-12 08:56:00

Definitely contributes to inability to lose weight once it has been gained. It may take a while to find the correct dose that makes you feel better. Drs here tend to take the TSH levels as being the main indicator and the 'norm' is stated to be between 0.5 and 5. In the USA the 'norm' for TSH is between 0.3 and 3. You need to really know what your T4 and T3 levels are also.

In my case, had TSH levels in the 30's on diagnosis (no wonder felt absolutely rubbish) and since then they have fluctuated - sometimes going as low as 9 (where still felt terrible) and sometimes going as high as 54 (when felt that couldn't do anything)!

There are some very good books available - there's even a Dummy's Guide to the Thyroid that you can get in Smiths or any other good bookstore.

It is amazing how such a tiny organ can affect our bodies, our wellbeing and our whole outlook!

JessM Tue 24-Jul-12 09:04:09

The thyroid hormone regulates your metabolism - a little more and your metabolism speeds up, a little less and it slows down. When it speeds up you burn up chemical energy (calories) faster. When is slows down the reverse - and also low thyroid levels can make you generally feel less energetic and active - so burn even less.
With any medication like this it is hard to get it just right for some people sad

AlisonMA Tue 24-Jul-12 09:39:04

HI sba please read my comments on the latest and previous weigh ins.

My expereince is that it is very difficult to diagnose hypothyroidism. I was told for several years that I was depressed and that there was nothing wrong with my thyroid despite my mother having had problems. Eventually I was sent back to hospital and saw a different consultant who was surprised that the original one had not further investigated by 'partly retro-sternal thyroid'. The thyroid gland is supposed to be about the size of a butterfly but mine had grown into an enormous one deep down into my breast and was causing breathlessness. He referred me to a surgeon because it had to come out straight away. All this time the tests were saying I was fine.

The reason the thyroid grows is because it is not working properly and tries to make what it needs by getting bigger. Apologies to Jeni and all the medics if I am putting this badly! grin

GPs tend to rely on the TSH figures but mine have always been a problem and I was put on 50 mcg of thyroxin and felt dreadful. This is a very low dose even for someone who still has a thyroid! I went to see an edocrinologist who did loads of tests and told me to double the dose and rely on how I felt rather than the tests.

All the above is to show you that there is no majic solution, you and your GP will have to work together on this.

I think part of the weight gain from hypothyroidism is the way you feel and so you excercise less energetically and perhaps eat more than you need. I don't think it is all down to the lack of hormone.

I now can only eat a very small amount and am now under 1000 calories a day and losing weight very, very slowly. I find MFP very helpful for recording what I actually eat and encouraging by showing me the value of all the excercise.

Good luck and don't give up.

jack Tue 24-Jul-12 10:17:48

I'm another person with an under-active thyroid gland and have been on medication for about ten years and have regular blood tests. I was 9 stone for most of my adult life until the thyroid problem started affecting my health pretty badly and I was given a diagnosis. I put on 2 stone and simply haven't been able to shift this unwanted weight, despite healthy diet, swimming, busy life, etc. etc. So annoying. I thoughy the thyroxine would do the trick and the weight would fall off. But that doesn't seem to happen, so I have learnt to live with being bigger than I'd like.

Sorry. That's not very helpful to those of you who have just been diagnosed or are waiting for blood test results. Perhaps there are some gransnetters out there for whom thyroxine has helped with weight loss. If so, please let the rest of us know!

harrigran Tue 24-Jul-12 10:47:31

Yes under active thyroid causes weight gain, it also alters the texture of your skin and makes you feel sluggish.

granjura Tue 24-Jul-12 10:49:47

Yep, same here. I think it depends on how quickly ti is diagnosed and treated. Min was not diagnosed for a few years, and by then I had put a lot of weight on. I have lost some, 1 stone and a 1/2, since being on Thyroxine, very slowly, but seems stuck now.

Sbagran Tue 24-Jul-12 20:08:20

Thank you all for all your input - it all made fascinating reading and I will take it all on board and bear it all in mind when I phone for my results at the end of the week.
AlisonMA I have been following your posts on the weigh-in thread with interest for several weeks - your experience sounds horrific and I am so pleased all is now sorted for you.
Those who have read my threads in the past will know I suffer from occasional vaselvagel (?spelling?) episodes when, for some unexplainable reason, my BP suddenly drops and I hit the deck. Normally I am 'out of it' for a few minutes but quickly recover. I feel rough for about 24hrs, then a 'bit under par' for the next 24hrs but after that I am fine again.
Following my last episode, which I admit was more intense than normal, I was rough for the first 24hrs, under par for the next 24hrs but never actually felt 100%. I am normally very active with work and my regular gym/swim sessions etc but I couldn't shake off the lethargy and extreme tiredness which is why the GP ordered all the original blood tests.
It looks like there are many of us in the same boat and the magic solution to my inability to lose weight does not lie here! I am now on MFP and I will persevere!
If I find the magic solution you will ALL be the first to know!

jeni Tue 24-Jul-12 20:38:52


Sbagran Tue 24-Jul-12 20:57:49

Thanks jeni

AlisonMA Wed 25-Jul-12 09:28:44

sba nothing like yours but I do have low blood pressure. I wonder if there is any conection with hypothyroidism? I just think how lucky I am but wouldn't if it was as bad as yours. Occasionally I take mine as DH has to monitor his and the other day we wondered if I was dead!

chitchat Wed 25-Jul-12 18:45:32

I have an Underactive thyroid have had for many a long year. In some way's I am lucky because I am 5ft 3" and only weigh 8stone 1lb, yes it is an under active thryroid. I had a over active thyroid when I was 21years old. I had an operation for it. I have all the other symptom's that go with an Underactive thyroid, but the high dose of throxine I am on certainly helps.

JessM Wed 25-Jul-12 19:17:31

This is a link to a publication by Harvard Medical school (their publication arm)
It is about thyroid conditions and aimed at patients.
I bought one of these online booklets once and found it quite good - written by doctors so occasionally strayed into the zone of "too much detail"
There is some free info and you usually have to pay a bit for the whole booklet.

Charlotta Wed 25-Jul-12 19:37:30

yes jessM that was an interesting article but most of what was listed in the older people symptoms I have quite regularly just because I'm over 70.
My thyroid was tested and not only the blood test, and found to be OK. I thought it was over active but it wasn't.

There are so many reasons for gaining weight and it is hard to get rid of once its on. The way forward is really only to eat less but that means doing without treats and comforts for the rest of your life and who wants that?

My niece is a nurse and she says it is good to be a stone heavier than when you were 21, because once in hospital with a really serious illness you will lose weight very quickly indeed and the thin ones suffer then from that.

jack Thu 26-Jul-12 07:40:03

You niece's view has made my morning charlotta! I'm sure she's right. It is good to be a stone heavier now than when we were 21. As my dear old mum used to say: "If you're ill, you need something to fall back on." Think I'll have a chocolate later ... smile

goldengirl Thu 26-Jul-12 12:21:28

Your niece has made me feel much better already, charlotta. What a lovely girl. But the trouble is I'm 2 stone heavier than I should be confused Off to have some lunch!