When someone says they are suffering from thyroid, there can be two kinds of hormone discrepancies. One is hypothyroidism, where less than average thyroid hormones are produced, and another is hyperthyroidism, where more than the necessary hormones are released. If a person is suffering from an overactive thyroid gland, it means the body’s systems operate at unrestricted full speed (1). The elevated concentrations of hormones can put your health at greater risk. The sad part is, the symptoms are often overlooked, assuming it as the ‘good thyroid’ just because it does not make you gain weight! Here are a few signs you should watch out for if you are diagnosed with an overactive thyroid.
1. Cardiac Issues
Like all other organs, your heart’s activity increases due to excessive thyroid hormone production. If not treated, your pulse can increase and result in severe palpitations. It isn’t a harmless or temporary condition. As the disease progresses, serious problems may grow roots. This includes life-threatening irregular heartbeats, high blood pressure, and congestive heart failure (2). Treatment for hyperthyroidism generally solves these problems if treated at an early stage.
Osteoporosis, or weak, brittle bones, is another risk of untreated hyperthyroidism. Bones are active tissues and go through a process known as remodeling (3). The process involves dissolving the old bone and laying new ones. An overactive thyroid can cause a shift towards losing bone mass and can weaken the body’s ability to absorb calcium. The bones are frailer and put you at risk of fractures. Addressing the issue with the proper medication could stop or reverse the loss of bone.
3. Muscle Instability
Like your bones, your muscles can also be affected by excessive thyroid hormone levels. The term used to describe the degeneration of muscles is called hyperthyroid myopathy (4). It mainly affects the muscles in the upper and lower arms, shoulders, hips, and thighs. It can also affect your throat, face, eyes, mouth, and respiratory tract. Balancing the thyroid hormone levels back to normal will allow you to regain control and strength in your muscles.
4. Abnormal Appetite
People who suffer from overactive thyroid often have a much greater appetite than otherwise. The higher rate of metabolism makes them digest the food faster, and hence they can eat way more without fearing gaining weight. This might seem like a positive thing, but if you feel like you are feeling hungry within an hour of having a heavy meal, try not to give in to that temptation. Overeating can cause a big problem with your stomach. It needs room for smooth and proper digestion. Try to find other ways to curb your uncontrollable hunger. Coffee and chocolate are such things that can help you control your untimely food urges.
5. Weight Loss
People with an overactive thyroid typically notice that they can take in food, eat but not gain weight. In fact, they might even lose weight. It is because the body’s metabolism may be running too fast to maintain. This might sound like a blessing, but gradually it leads to the body’s breakdown. In the end, you will feel weakness and fatigue keeping you from doing any activity.
6. Mental And Emotional Problems
In hyperthyroidism, the nervous system is continuously operating with increased alertness. Patients with an overactive thyroid typically experience a feeling of being in overdrive mentally (5). This can cause anxiety, tension, and irritability. It can also lead to sleep issues and difficulty in relaxing. The emotional and mental symptoms may be similar to those of mental disease. The treatment for thyroid problems can help calm your overworked brain and allow you to think clearly again.
7. Frequent Bowel Movements
An overactive thyroid can cause greater digestion speed than usual. It also constantly stimulates the muscles of the bowel. While this might appear to be an inconvenience, it actually could negatively impact your health. It can lead to dehydration and problems in absorbing nutrients. Balancing your thyroid hormone levels can restore harmony to your digestive system overall.
8. Eye Problems
Hyperthyroidism leads to evident bulging eyes. This is called Graves Ophthalmopathy or thyroid eye disease (6). Other signs include swelling and redness in the eyes, sensitivity to light, and double or blurred vision. If not treated, vision issues could become severe and eventually cause blindness.
9. Skin Problems
While it is rare, skin issues may occur due to thyroid overactivity. The condition, known as Graves’ Dermopathy, causes the skin to swell, redness, and changes in texture. The most common areas affected are the skin around the shins and on the tops of the feet. It is a condition that can make those who suffer from Graves disease feel uncomfortable. It may also make it difficult to find shoes that suit your feet. The mild cases typically resolve through thyroid treatments. In some instances, alternative therapies, like compression stockings, can be helpful.
10. Reproductive Problems
An overactive thyroid may affect the entirety of the woman’s reproductive health. It could result in irregular or even non-existent menstrual cycles. It may also affect the fertility of a woman, which makes it more difficult for them to become pregnant. If a woman is pregnant, having excessive thyroid hormone levels can put both baby and mother at risk. This increases the risk of having a miscarriage or premature birth. Mothers are at risk of developing potentially life-threatening high blood pressure, also known as preeclampsia (7). The control of thyroid hormone levels will aid in keeping mother and baby healthy.
11. Thyrotoxic Crisis
A thyrotoxic crisis is a sudden increase in hyperthyroid symptoms (8). Another term used to describe this condition is thyroid storm. While it’s not common, it’s likely to be seen in patients when there is a lack of treatment or untreated hyperthyroidism. The symptoms include fever, excessive sweating, a racing pulse, and vomiting. It can also cause diarrhea, extreme weakness, delusions, and seizures. A thyrotoxic crisis can be a dangerous medical emergency and needs to be attended to immediately.
These were the symptoms in people who suffer from an overactive thyroid. Even though people generally treat hypothyroidism as a minor threat, hyperthyroidism can be fatal too. If diagnosed at the right time, medicines can help you control the excess hormone production and lead to a healthy life. Getting a blood test done once every six months can help you diagnose the health problem at the earliest and keep you healthy. Make sure you read all the deets on thyroid-related problems. Even though not all symptoms will apply to you, figure out with your doctor, which one is actually weighing you down.
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- Thyroid Tests
- Hypothyroidism and the Heart
- Physiology Bone Remodeling
- Hyperthyroidism–cause of depression and psychosis: a case report
- Graves Ophthalmopathy
- Current best practice in the management of hypertensive disorders in pregnancy