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Can't Lose Weight? This Simple Test Might Tell You Why

Updated on December 3, 2012

A lot of people struggle with weight loss and keep trying different medications without succeeding. Many have tried changing their diet and lifestyle too and all to no avail.

But what if the reason they cannot lose those pounds is because they have an underlying condition whose sole symptom is weight gain or inability to lose weight?

The thyroid gland located in the neck releases thyroid hormones in the body. These hormones are known to contribute to the regulation of metabolism.

This means that they determine how fast and how well you burn calories. When your body produces low amounts of these hormones, you will metabolize food slower, and instead of turning what you eat into energy, you end up storing them up.


The thyroid releases two hormones: triiodothyronine or T3 and thyroxine or T4. When these hormones are not manufactured and released in adequate amounts in the thyroid, a state of hypothyroidism results.

The most common cause of hypothyroidism is iodine deficiency. However, there are other causes of the medical condition including stress and damage to the thyroid gland.

There are 3 forms of hypothyroidism: primary, secondary and tertiary.

Primary hypothyroidism results when the thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones because of some direct damage to the gland. It is the most common form of hypothyroidism.

Secondary hypothyroidism results when the pituitary gland does not produce enough thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) to signal the thyroid gland to release T3 and T4.

Tertiary hypothyroidism occurs when the hypothalamus does not produce sufficient thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) to induce the pituitary gland to release enough TSH.

It takes a while for hypothyroidism to show detectable symptoms and quite a lot of people live with the condition without knowing.

Common symptoms of hypothyroidism include constipation, weight gain, water retention, heightened sensitivity to cold, fatigue, poor muscle tone, low heart rate, depression, muscle cramps, dry skin and reduced sweating.

Symptoms during advanced stages of the medication condition include goiter, hypothermia, speech impediments, abnormal menstrual cycles and even female infertility.

Thyroid Tests

Thyroid function tests are conducted to find the levels of TSH, T3 and T4 hormones in the body.
These blood tests are usually combined in a test panel which measures TSH levels, free T3 and total T3 as well as free T4 and total T4 levels in the body.

The outcome will hopefully result in normal levels of tsh, but this is not always the case.

Hypothyroidism is diagnosed if the free T3 and T4 levels as well as total T3 and T4 levels are below the normal range. The TSH level is, however, elevated in people with hypothyroidism.

Hypothyroidism and Weight Loss

While hypothyroidism can occur at any age, it is most common in adults. In addition, the condition is more common in women than in men.

Most of the weight gain during hypothyroidism is due to water retention and not fat accumulation. Therefore, dieting, exercise regimens and most of weight loss medications do not produce desirable effects for people suffering from the condition.

See your doctor to determine if hypothyroidism is the cause of your inability to lose weight. A simple thyroid test can give a definitive result.

Sometimes T4 levels are normal while the level of TSH is raised. This is an early indicator of upcoming hypothyroidism which may already be present but not showing symptoms.

Hypothyroidism is often treated with synthroid tablets which replace the T4 your body is not making or natural alternatives such as Thyax.

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