Have you experienced sudden weight loss, irregular or rapid heartbeat, increased appetite, trembling, sweating, anxiety and irritability, sensitivity to heat, and changes in bowel patterns? Together with sleep problems, fatigue, changes in menstrual patterns, thinning of skin, brittle hair, and neck goitres, any of these may be signs of an overactive thyroid.
What is the thyroid, and why does it matter? It’s one of the body’s primary endocrine glands, along with the pituitary gland, the adrenal glands and others. Together, these glands secrete a constant stream of hormones that keep the body’s internal systems on a steady balance: not too hot, not too cold, not too fast, not too slow, and so on.
Too Little or Too Much?
If your thyroid is overactive, that means it’s producing too much of its own hormones. Specifically, these are calcitonin, triiodothyronine and thyroxine. Calcitonin keeps blood calcium levels from getting too high, while triiodothyronine and thyroxine manage metabolism rates and the rates at which other bodily systems grow and function.
Too little of these hormones result in a condition known as hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid. This can be caused by heredity (though very rare), surgery that was performed to remove the gland because it was overactive, stress, iodine deficiencies, and autoimmune conditions.
Too much of these hormones results in the opposite condition, hyperthyroidism. If you have this disorder, it means you have overactive thyroid. In particular, it is producing too much thyroid hormone – triiodothyronine and thyroxine.
Symptoms – is your thyroid overactive
This leads to a long list of symptoms that you have overactive thyroid, some of which can be mistaken for symptoms of other illnesses. They include heart palpitations, weight loss, heavy sweating, diarrhoea, irritability, sleep disturbances, muscle weakness, heat sensitivity, increased appetite, bulging eyes and neck goitres. There are many other symptoms, from the minor to the severe.
It’s important to see your doctor right away if you are experiencing any of these problems. It’s imperative that your physician make the correct diagnosis, since many of these symptoms can mimic other conditions. Hyperthyroidism is often mistaken for clinical depression, for example, since they both frequently present with weight fluctuations, irritability and anxiety, sleep problems and appetite changes.
There are a number of treatments for an overactive thyroid. They include antithyroid drugs, beta-blockers, dietary restrictions, radioactive therapy and surgery. Diagnosing and treating a thyroid that is overactive can be especially difficult while pregnant, so make sure to talk to your doctor right away if you’re expecting and showing any of these signs.
If you have questions or concerns about overactive thyroid problems see your local doctor who will arrange for you to see a thyroid surgeon.