Can your thyroid make you fat? It’s not uncommon for people to casually lay the blame for extra weight on a thyroid problem.

But is this a self-diagnosis/excuse and is weight gain the only danger of having issues with the thyroid?

To answer these and other thyroid questions, we chatted to Professor Justus Apffelstaedt, one of the few surgeons in South Africa to offer a minimally invasive surgery for hyperparathyroidism.

Who is most at risk for developing a thyroid problem?

Prof Apffelstaedt: Women from 50 and over are at greater risk of developing a thyroid problem. Other risk factors include whether you have a family history of thyroid disease, autoimmune disease or type 1 diabetes.
How do you know if you have a thyroid problem? What are the symptoms?

Prof Apffelstaedt: Thyroid health concerns may include such symptoms as:

  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Increased appetite
  • Difficulty concentrating and/or forgetfulness
  • Decreased libido
  • Palpitations
  • Dry or itchy skin
  • Constipation
  • Change in menstruation
  • Feeling cold consistently
  • Painful or uncomfortable extremities
  • High blood pressure
  • Weight loss or weight gain
In terms of hyperparathyroidism, symptoms can include:

  • Fragile bones that easily fracture (osteoporosis)
  • Kidney stones
  • Excessive thirst in combination with excessive urination
  • Abdominal pain
  • Tiring easily or weakness
  • Depression or forgetfulness
  • Bone and joint pain
  • Frequent complaints of illness with no apparent cause
  • Nausea, vomiting or loss of appetite