Overactive Thyroid: Problems, Symptoms, Causes and Diagnosis

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Thyroid gland is located just beneath your voice box and one of its main functions is to control the rate at which your body burns the calories you consume. When thyroid gland starts producing excessive amounts of hormones a condition called hyperthyroidism develops. This is the opposite of hypothyroidism, in which the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone. An overactive thyroid can be caused by inflammation, tumors, and a condition called Graves’s disease. Although it is relatively easy to treat hyperthyroidism, many people fail to recognize the main symptoms and therefore end up feeling unwell for years.

The main signs and symptoms that indicate visiting a doctor to ascertain hyperthyroidism include-

Excessive sweating:

Sweating easily and excessively is one of the most common signs of an overactive thyroid. One might wake-up drenched in sweat even when the weather is not particularly hot, or may find that even a small amount of exercise resulting in excessive sweating,

Lack of Concentration: Hyperthyroidism can cause inability to concentrate, as well as decreased ability to effectively make decisions. One can end up thinking about the world with text books open in front of eyes,

Enlarged thyroid gland:

In some cases of hyperthyroidism, you can see a swollen thyroid gland. This disease is called goitre, and it can end up causing difficulties in swallowing (as well as frequent coughing and hoarse voice).

Restlessness and anxiety:

Many people who face an overactive thyroid condition, experience emotional disturbance. Perhaps the confidence gets shadowed by nervousness. In addition, one may also find it hard to sit still without feeling the urge to change one’s position,to fidget or to walk around. If these symptoms persist for a longtime, one should discuss them with the doctor. If one is not having hyperthyroidism, then nervousness and edginess may be taken as indications of an anxiety disorder.

Menstrual abnormalities:

Firstly, teenage girls with hyperthyroidism may not reach puberty or experience menstruation until later than the average age. Secondly, women with an overactive thyroid may find that their periods are infrequent, or entirely absent. If you have recently noticed such changes, report them to an appropriate medical professional. If your menstrual disturbances can’t be explained by hyperthyroid ism, other hormonal and reproductive investigations may be suggested.

Increased body mass:

Sudden and abnormal weight gain and change in body mass could possibly be because of thyroid condition.

Treatment of hyperthyroidism

There is no single treatment which would apply to all hyperthyroidism patients. Different factors influence the treatment which includes patient’s age, level of hyperthyroidism and other medical conditions of the patient.

There are three ways to treat hyperthyroidism i.e. with drugs, radioactive iodine therapy and surgery.

Drug therapy-

In this, doctors prescribe certain drugs that block the thyroid hormone present in the blood, which makes it difficult for iodine to reach the thyroid gland. Doctors also prescribe beta-blocker drugs to reduce the effects of the existing thyroid hormone.

Radioactive iodine therapy-

Radioactive iodine therapy is administered if drug treatment does not benefit the patient. The patient is given a drink or capsule with radioactive iodine. The “radioiodine” is absorbed by the overactive thyroid cells, and it may take several weeks for thyroid to shrink in size, and fall in thyroid production with blood levels returning to normal. However, hyperthyroidism condition may reappear with this therapy after several months.

Surgery-

Surgery is carried out in people with large goitre, where drugs or radioactive therapy don’t cure. Depending upon the condition single overactive lump or the entire thyroid is removed. The patient may need subsequent thyroid replacement therapy depending on how much gland is left.

Precautions

  • Protect your neck during winter days.
  • Avoid smoking, processed foods and sweetened carbonated water.
  • Eat food that is low in calorie.
  • Do not drink caffeine and alcohol.
  • Vitamin C and B 12 help in treating hyperthyroidism.
  • Bladderwrack and spirulina are some good herbs that help in maintaining the function and regulate the working of thyroid gland.

Synopsis

Thyroid gland burns the calories consumed by us and are very sensitive as its excessive hormone production results in hyperthyroidism. This could lead to anxiety, swollen thyroid and other abnormalities. One should immediately consult doctor on indication of this medical condition as it takes years for the same to get completely cured.

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