Did you know that 1 out of 100 adults in the US has hyperthyroidism? Hyperthyroidism can cause your heart to race and ruin your sleep quality.
In fact, hyperthyroidism can throw your entire body off and lead to complications like heart failure and stroke if left untreated. Despite this, hyperthyroidism doesn’t have to run your life.
The more you educate yourself on the symptoms, causes, and treatments, the better you can find solutions that work for you. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know to take charge of your health!
What is Hyperthyroidism?
Your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in the front area of your neck. Hyperthyroidism, also known as an overactive thyroid, is a condition where your thyroid gland makes too much thyroid hormone.
Thyroid hormones affect how your body uses energy, so your metabolism speeds up. They also affect every organ in your body from how your heart beats to how quickly you digest food.
Hyperthyroidism Risk Factors
Hyperthyroidism is much more common in women and anybody older than 60. Women have hormone fluctuations during menopause and pregnancy, and some studies suggest there may be a link. Other risk factors include:
- A family history of thyroid disease
- History of thyroid problems like a goiter
- Having type 1 or type 2 diabetes
- Being diagnosed with hormonal disorders like adrenal insufficiency
There are different causes of hyperthyroidism to look at. Keep in mind that it’s possible to experience one or more of these conditions simultaneously. Hyperthyroidism causes include:
Hyperthyroidism can be caused by a condition called Graves disease. Autoimmune diseases are triggered by your body’s immune system, which normally produces antibodies to fight bacteria and viruses. In Graves disease, your immune system attacks your own thyroid tissue causing it to become overactive.
Thyroid nodules, which are small growths on your thyroid, can sometimes cause hyperthyroidism. These growths are usually not cancerous and are more common in older adults.
Sometimes the thyroid gland can become inflamed after pregnancy, or due to an autoimmune disease or a viral infection. This inflammation, or thyroiditis, can lead to hyperthyroidism.
Stress and Nutritional Deficiencies
Experiencing a lot of stress can increase the overall inflammation in your body, which can worsen existing hyperthyroidism or trigger it to start. Certain nutrients are needed for your thyroid to function normally. Having coexisting deficiencies in certain nutrients can cause hyperthyroidism. These nutrients include:
- Vitamin B12
Signs and symptoms of hyperthyroidism can vary for each person. Hyperthyroidism can also often mimic other health problems, making it difficult to diagnose. Hyperthyroidism symptoms include:
- Sensitivity to heat
- Weight loss and increased appetite
- Hand tremors
- Rapid heart rate
- Nervousness and anxiety
- Difficulty sleeping
- Menstrual cycle changes
Some people develop an enlarged thyroid gland called a goiter that appears as a swelling at the base of the neck.
Older adults typically have different symptoms than younger adults. They often have subtle symptoms like fatigue during daily activities, appetite loss, and the tendency to withdraw from other people. Sometimes this is mistaken for depression or even dementia.
To diagnose hyperthyroidism, you’ll need to see your doctor. They’ll first review your symptoms, and do a physical exam which includes:
- Checking your thyroid for tenderness
- Checking your thyroid for enlargement or nodules
- Listening for a rapid heartbeat
- Checking your hands for tremors
Next, your doctor will order blood tests such as thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), triiodothyronine (T3), and thyroxine (T4). In hyperthyroidism, your TSH levels will be lower than normal and your T3 and T4 levels will be elevated.
Your doctor will also order imaging tests to help find the cause of your hyperthyroidism. A thyroid ultrasound is often ordered if you have nodules around your thyroid area.
To look for conditions like grave disease, or to closely evaluate thyroid nodules, you also might need a thyroid scan. A thyroid scan is a specialized type of scan that visualizes the exact size and shape of your thyroid gland.
During this test, you’ll have a small dose of radioactive iodine injected into your veins. A camera will then take pictures of your thyroid. Overactive thyroid nodules and graves disease will cause the thyroid to absorb more iodine and show up clearly in the pictures.
The first type of treatment your doctor will typically recommend is antithyroid medications like Tapazole or propylthiouracil (PTU). Antithyroid medications block your thyroid’s ability to make thyroid hormones and eventually decrease the excess hormones.
Most people need to take these medications for up to a year. Usually, these medications stop hyperthyroidism, but some people experience a relapse and need further treatment.
Another option is radioactive iodine treatment. You’ll take doses of radioactive iodine in pill form which damages your thyroid cells and causes them to shrink down. As a result, your thyroid hormone levels will go down within 1 to 2 weeks. The downside to this treatment is that it permanently destroys your thyroid, and you’ll have to take thyroid hormone replacement medication for the rest of your life.
Sometimes, thyroidectomy surgery is recommended to completely remove your thyroid gland. Surgery eliminates hyperthyroidism, but you’ll also be on lifelong thyroid replacement medication.
Other Hyperthyroidism Solutions
Managing your stress levels and nutrition is a big part of treating your hyperthyroidism. Practicing meditation, mindfulness, and creating a regular exercise routine is your first step. Also, taking vitamin B, selenium, and iodine can help balance your thyroid hormones.
Bioidentical hormone therapy can also be an effective solution for many people with thyroid dysfunction, especially women. It improves problems with both thyroid function and conditions like menopause. Also, it balances out your estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone levels.
Treat Your Hyperthyroidism Today
If you have hyperthyroidism, now is the time to start looking into different treatment options to get your life back on track.
EVEXIAS Partner Providers are leaders in wellness solutions for both men and women. Your provider can help you reach total wellness through healthy lifestyle changes, hormone therapy, and nutritional supplements.
Each provider develops a custom treatment plan to get you where you need to be. To get started, find a certified provider today so you can begin naturally managing your hyperthyroidism.