NATIONAL - For some people, even exercise and a healthy diet aren't enough to keep off the pounds. Turns out the problem is often caused by their thyroid.
Around eight million Americans have hypothyroidism, or low levels of thyroid hormones.
Even worse, millions more don't even know they have the problem.
Now there are increasing numbers of doctors who are having success in treating people on the borderline of the disease.
For years, Jessica Baylon felt like there was something wrong with her.
"Several years ago, I started feeling very lethargic and tired and sort of foggy," she said.
Dr. Frank Comstock says, "Patients with low thyroid present typically with depression or mood changes, weight gain or inability to lose weight, low energy and fatigue."
Jessica spoke to Doctor Frank Comstock about her symptoms. He tested her thyroid and found she was just below the normal range.
Dr. Comstock says, "There's a group of patients that have symptoms of low thyroid, but we get their blood tests and their blood tests are, are in the normal range."
Your thyroid gland, located in your neck, acts like your body's thermostat. It regulates body temperature, your energy, mood and how you metabolize food.
Dr. Comstock says, "A lot of these patients, you know what? They're eating well, they're exercising well, but their thyroids on the low side and if we boost that, for example, they, they lose the weight and they feel much better."
Thyroid medication can fix a whole host of problems for most patients.
"I mean within several days, I could tell the difference," explained Jessica.
If you're having symptoms, you should get three specific blood tests. TSH, T4 and T3. Only doing one of them doesn't give the doctor the entire picture.
Dr. Comstock says that "this is a disservice to say everything's normal and it's all in your head or maybe you just need to exercise more if you can't lose weight."
It's advice helping patients like Jessica thrive. Since treatment for thyroid disease can become lifelong, not everyone agrees with medicating patients with low thyroid levels right away.
However, Doctor Comstock is one of a growing number of physicians who believe the current measurements should be adjusted to allow for treatment of these "borderline" patients.
Posted by Bryce Mursch