Hyperthyroidism is an overactive thyroid. In previous articles, we described hypothyroidism. The difference between hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism is that they are opposites.
In the case of hyperthyroidism, your butterfly-shaped gland located in the base of your neck produces more thyroid hormones than it should. This potentially could cause multiple issues in your brain and your body.
What are these hormones? They are typically your tetraiodothyronine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). These two hormones are the ones that affect every organ and control different functions like your heart rate, energy levels, digestion, moods, fertility, weight, and much more. So, they can wreak havoc if they are imbalanced.
When your thyroid produces too much T3 and T4, it can lead to many complications. Therefore, you need to spot the signs and seek your practician’s advice. Here is how to spot the signs.
As with many other diseases, the symptoms of hyperthyroidism can vary between people. You may feel the effect of one symptom more than another one. Therefore, if you visit online forums about hyperthyroidism, you may feel overwhelmed or confused by the information you read.
Some people are indeed considered higher risks than others:
- You have a family history of known and diagnosed thyroid disease.
- You have diabetes.
- You use medication, or your food is too rich in iodine.
- You are anemic and B12 vitamin deficient.
- You had a life-changing circumstance that deeply affected you physically or emotionally.
However, the human brain and body are more complex. Therefore, if you do not fall in a higher risk category, it does not mean that there is no risk at all. As some symptoms worsen with time, if you experience some of the following symptoms, seek immediate professional medical advice.
Typically, when you suffer from hyperthyroidism, your metabolism goes faster. The medical world calls it: “hypermetabolic state, “ and it translates as:
- Agitation, nervousness, and irritability
- Mood swings
- Elevated blood pressure
- Increased sweat
- Reduced tolerance to heat
- Sleeping issues
- Muscle tension or weakness
- Itchy skin
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
- Weight loss
- Increase in appetite
- Hair loss & thinning hair
- Frequent bowel movements, softer stool
- Irregular menstruation
- Fertility problems
- Swollen bulging neck (called a goiter)
- Bulging eyes
Multiple factors can trigger hyperthyroidism, and we saw some examples previously. The only way to determine if your thyroid gland produces too many hormones is to speak to your health care provider, and here is how they will determine what is wrong with your thyroid.
How is Hyperthyroidism Diagnosed?
There are different ways to check thyroid glands. First, your practitioner will discuss your symptoms and look for clues:
- Do you have cases in your family suffering from thyroid disorders?
- Do you take supplements? What are they?
- Did you lose weight?
- How are your pulse and blood pressure?
- Are your eyes protruding?
- Do you have an enlarged thyroid gland?
Why check your thyroid gland size? It is one of the clues. Some patients develop a goiter with time. So, your doctor will touch the front part of your neck to manually determine if your gland is swollen. Based on this first assessment level, they will decide how to proceed further.
Some will request imaging tests with a scan or ultrasound of the thyroid gland. Some practitioners will request an advanced blood test to verify the Thyroid Stimulating Hormones (TSH), T3, and T4, and cholesterol levels.
Why check TSH and cholesterol?
- When thyroid hormone levels are normal or high, the TSH level should be lower. If your TSH is abnormally low, it can be a sign of hyperthyroidism.
- Low cholesterol levels indicate a higher metabolism. In the case of hyperthyroidism, your body needs more fuel to burn. Therefore, your system will use the cholesterol available and feed on it.
In other words, there are different things to check, and for many people, this is the most challenging time to go through.
What Happens Next?
Conventional medicine will use different ways to treat hyperthyroidism:
- Administrate antithyroid treatments using radioactive iodine.
- Surgically remove the thyroid gland depending on some cases.
Although nothing should replace medical treatments, there are natural ways to help with hyperthyroidism and your symptoms. Unfortunately, they are too often disregarded.
As for many things, nutrition and lifestyle play a central role in the recovery process. The comment is valid for hyperthyroidism as well. Talk to your doctor about how to naturally complement your recovery plan. Although medication may not be replaced, there are things you may consider as part of your recovery strategy. Of course, there are things to avoid, such as:
- Processed foods
- Dairy products
- Red meats
- Grains (Bread, pasta etc…)
- Soy-based products, including tofu
- Make sure to avoid supplements with high iodine
Essentially, you should consider increasing your intake of:
- Non-GMO, plant-based foods..
- Non-dairy calcium sources that you can naturally find in higher concentrations in some vegetables like turnip and kale.
- Increase vitamin B-12 or B-complex. If you decide to take supplements, talk to your doctor first, and follow the supplement manufacturer’s instructions.
- Selenium can help in some cases but should not be associated with some medications. Talk to your practitioner about it.
Ultimately, try to change your lifestyle:
- Exercise more.
- Take time to prepare your food and eat.
- Integrate breathing techniques and relaxation into your daily routine.
- Spend some time identifying the stress factors that can cause a flare-up of symptoms and put a strategy in place to circumvent problems.
Do not underestimate the benefits of breathing techniques and exercise and their positive impact on your brain and body. They can help with blood pressure, pulse rates, mood swings, and many more. Eating the right foods and establishing healthy habits will contribute to restoring healthy guts and thyroid.
And What Now?
The long-term answer to your hyperthyroidism depends on its root cause and how you go about it. Many complications can happen along the way, and many factors can trigger a hormonal fire. However, restoring good quality of life is possible.
Therefore, it is essential to address the root cause and develop a holistic strategy to address complex problems: an early diagnostic and a holistic health plan addressing your inflammation’s root cause.
Self-care is an essential aspect of your recovery process. These are the little adjustments that can help a long way and the most difficult to put in place. Therefore, consider teaming-up with specialists that can work alongside your practitioner or endocrinologist.