Hyperthyroidism, otherwise known as an overactive thyroid, is a condition characterized by the overproduction of two primary hormones called tetraiodothyronine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) in the thyroid gland. T3 and T4 are responsible for managing the cell’s energy expenditure. Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland produces too much of one or both of these hormones. The most common cause of hyperthyroidism is Grave’s disease. Here are the most common signs indicating that an individual may have an overactive thyroid.
Shifts In Appetite
Hyperthyroidism may cause either an increase or decrease in appetite or a complete change in the type of food a person craves. The majority of patients with hyperthyroidism will experience an increase in appetite, but any unprovoked change in taste might be a sign. Weight changes and an increase in thirst are also common symptoms of hyperthyroidism. Some individuals may gain weight and others will lose it. Keeping a daily food journal is a great way to track any appetite changes. Be sure to note any food cravings, what you ate, when you ate it, and how you felt afterward.
Keep reading to find out how hyperthyroidism can affect your mood.
Experiencing a rapid change in hormone levels can be unsettling. Abnormal thyroid hormone levels may cause changes in mood or behavior such as mood swings, nervousness, hyperactivity, irritability, or panic attacks. Medications are available to assist with mood changes; however, it should be noted that many medicines come with physiological side effects similar to the symptoms of the disease itself. For example, steroids can cause depression, anxiety, and mood swings. Work with your doctor to find a treatment option that includes diet, exercise, and medication if needed.
Next, learn how an overactive thyroid can affect the heart.
An Irregular Heartbeat
Overproduction of thyroid hormones affects the heart’s function in many ways. Hyperthyroidism may cause abnormal heart rhythm, the sensation of an irregular heartbeat, or a fast heart rate. Certain medications prescribed for thyroid function may also cause an irregular heartbeat or other undesirable side effects. Beta blockers are designed to slow down heart rate and reduce anxiety but may produce feelings of depression, fatigue, and the inability to concentrate in people with an overactive thyroid.
Reveal how hyperthyroidism can affect reproduction next.
Lighter And Less Frequent Menstrual Periods
Having an irregular menstrual period might not seem ideal, but it’s an excellent way to predict how well a woman’s thyroid is functioning. Whereas an underactive thyroid may cause a heavier flow more often with more severe cramps, hyperthyroidism may cause shorter and lighter periods. Periods may also be farther apart due to high levels of thyroid hormones, which can make conceiving a bit trickier. Thyroid problems may also cause a decreased interest in sex.
Discover how an overactive thyroid can change a person's appearance now.
Changes In Appearance
Hyperthyroidism is caused by an autoimmune condition known as Grave’s disease in which the thyroid gland overproduces hormones. Symptoms of the disease may include weight gain or loss, loss of hair, skin problems, and inflammation behind the eye. Due to the overproduction of hormones, the skin may become oily and develop acne easier than before. Grave’s disease may also cause excess sweating, bulging eyes, vision problems such as double vision, heat intolerance, and a goiter.
Uncover how this condition can affect the bowels now.
Whereas hypothyroidism may cause constipation, hyperthyroidism can cause more frequent bowel movements or diarrhea. The thyroid plays a significant role in metabolism and digestion because of its ability to release hormones that influence how your body handles nutrients. Overproduction of hormones creates an overactive digestive system that eliminates frequently and may also cause stomach pain and sensitivity to many foods. For example, people with Grave’s disease are five times more likely to develop Celiac disease. A good place to start is to eliminate gluten, dairy, and processed foods from the diet.
Continue reading to find out if this condition is hereditary or not.
A Close Family Member Has Similar Issues
Hyperthyroidism can run in some families, therefore, if you have a close relative with this condition, you may want to get your thyroid checked. Hyperthyroidism is also connected to the autoimmune conditions Hashimoto’s disease, Crohn’s disease, Celiac, and Grave’s disease. If you or one of your close family members has one of these autoimmune conditions, you may be at an increased risk. Blood work can be done to determine whether you have the antibodies for Grave’s disease, which is a reliable indicator of an overactive thyroid.
Next, learn how medications and an overactive thyroid are connected.
Symptoms Suddenly Appear With New Medication
Certain medications, including aluminum-containing antacids, Didanosine (an HIV antiviral drug), and Sucralfate (an antacid), as well as resin binders, calcium carbonate, iron, and sodium polystyrene sulfonate, have been shown to inhibit the absorption of thyroid hormones and decrease their efficiency. If your symptoms began after you started taking a particular medication or supplement, discontinue use and talk to your doctor about possible problems.
Keep reading to uncover how this condition can affect a person's sleeping habits.
Sleep-related disorders and issues can arise when an individual has an overactive thyroid. Symptoms include insomnia, frequent waking throughout the night, restlessness, snoring, anxiety (due to lack of sleep), heart palpitations, restless leg syndrome, and tremors, which can all disrupt sleep. While some patients may feel energetic throughout the day with no signs of any sleep difficulties or chronic fatigue, many do experience fatigue and exhaustion, while also feeling anxious and restless. Many patients go to bed feeling exhausted but then have a hard time falling asleep and remaining asleep throughout the night, and may not wake up feeling refreshed as most individuals normally do. Some hyperthyroid patients may develop sleeping disorders such as sleep apnea, night sweats, and insomnia, due to their lack of sleep, and in particular, night sweats are a common problem for many hyperthyroid patients as their body has difficulty regulating its temperature throughout the night.
Speaking of sweating, uncover how hyperthyroidism can cause excessive sweating now.
Increased Sweating & Heat Intolerance
As we know, hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid produces too much thyroxine, a naturally occurring hormone within the body that affects the regulation of the body’s metabolism. When there is an increase in thyroxine, it causes the body’s metabolism to increase, leading to a rising body temperature that can be tricky to regulate. Heat intolerance, perspiration, flushing, and excessive sweating are all symptoms that can occur due to the increase in this hormone.
When functioning correctly, the thyroid is able to properly respond to changes in temperature by adjusting the body’s basal metabolic rate (BMR) and releasing hormones to promote cellular release (aka sweating) or retention of heat, allowing the body to remain at a comfortable temperature. With hyperthyroidism, the body cannot regulate these hormones as easily, therefore, many patients have difficulty adjusting to the heat, causing them to become heat intolerant. As a result of them 'overheating,' many patients will begin to excessively sweat.
Reveal another common sign of hyperthyroidism related to sleep now.
Fatigue, similar to sleep difficulties, is another symptom of hyperthyroidism, generally resulting from insomnia, anxiety, sleep apnea, night sweats, and disrupted sleep patterns. Similar to hypothyroidism, if Graves’ disease is the underlying cause for an individual’s thyroid issues, treating Graves’ disease and hyperthyroidism will typically resolve excessive fatigue. Sleep apnea, another serious sleeping disorder, can also greatly contribute to fatigue due to reduced oxygen intake while sleeping. Besides fatigue and lingering grogginess, sleep apnea can also cause a patient to snore, wake up gasping for air, headaches, and waking up at night to urinate.
There are some ways a patient with hyperthyroidism who are experiencing fatigue can try to optimize their sleep health to reduce the amount of fatigue they feel the next day. For instance, they can try to keep their bedroom cooler, avoid electronics before bedtime, minimize light in the bedroom, avoid caffeine and alcohol in the afternoon, avoid naps, and avoid exercising after dinner.
Next, learn how an overactive thyroid can cause tremors.
It may start as just a fine trembling in the hands and fingers, but don’t be fooled as hyperthyroidism can cause tremors to occur in most patients. To put it into perspective why tremors occur, let’s break down the thyroid gland. Located in the neck, just above the collarbone, the thyroid gland regulates the body’s metabolism, and when it is in overdrive, the whole body speeds up, causing tremors to develop. This is due to an increase in energy production by every cell in the body, resulting in nervous stimuli to become excessive, such as a hand tremor. The shaking can be barely noticeable or exaggerated, as the level of intensity depends on the excitability of the nerves, as well as how much the thyroid hormone has increased.
A tremor is generally more common in women than in men, as hyperthyroidism affects more females than males. The following risks can also contribute to a tremor developing on top of hyperthyroidism, such as a family history of the disease, Type I diabetes, pernicious anemia, primary adrenal insufficiency, excessive iodine consumption, over the age of sixty, and if a woman has been pregnant in the last six months.
Keep reading to discover how hyperthyroidism can take a patient’s breath away.
Shortness Of Breath
Similar to other conditions, hyperthyroidism can cause shortness of breath to develop, as this condition causes the respiratory muscles to weaken and decrease in pulmonary function. Specifically, hyperthyroidism increases respiratory drive and can cause dyspnea on exertion, or shortness of breath. A patient may notice this sign whenever they become winded just from walking to the mailbox or climbing a flight of stairs, but many patients notice it is especially when they are at rest or during exercise. Specifically, the trachea becomes compressed, which can be positional, and can happen with nodular goiters (lumps on the neck) and thyroid cancer, but is also commonly seen in patients with hyperthyroidism, as the lungs do not respond properly to the increased metabolic rate caused by this condition.