by Rebecca Shatsky, MD 2011 | firstname.lastname@example.org
We hear it all too often, “No, the weight gain wasn’t my fault. My doctor told me I have a gland problem!” Seems like a reasonable explanation right? Mass media around the globe continues to remind you that hormones are involved in weight loss and that glands make hormones so…who cares if I haven’t hit the gym in six months and the pizza place knows me by name. It has to be my glands that caused me to gain a few pounds last winter, right?
While “glandular problem” is not the technical term, colloquially when someone says they have a glandular problem they are most commonly referring to an underactive thyroid. In medical-ese we call this hypothyroidism. While it’s usually not a life-threatening condition, hypothyroidism is a fairly common disease that brings with it a variety of negative symptoms including excess fatigue, dry skin, cold intolerance and weight gain (i.e. symptoms that can make you miserable). Conversely, if your thyroid is overactive, you may develop the opposite symptoms: heart palpitations, anxiety, weight loss and heat intolerance. What’s amazing about this underappreciated organ is that it can be easily checked with a simple blood test at your doctor’s office and any abnormalities can often be kept at bay with a simple medication. Before you go running off to your doctor, it’s important to understand what the thyroid gland is and how it works.