An Overactive Thyroid: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment
Women are considered to be more at risk for developing an overactive thyroid than men. In fact, women develop the symptoms of an overactive thyroid ten times more frequently than men. The reason for the link between female anatomy and overactive thyroid disorder is largely a mystery, but women are encouraged to pay careful attention to their health in order to diagnose changes in thyroid function.
What Causes a Thyroid to Become Overactive?
Graves’ disease is the most common cause of an overactive thyroid. Graves’ disease is genetically linked, so a genetic predisposition to this disorder increases the risk factors for contracting this disease. Typically, women are more likely to develop Graves’ disease than men. This immune system disorder causes the body to create an antibody that stimulates excessive production of thyroid hormones.
Other causes of an overactive thyroid can include inflammation of the thyroid due to viruses or bacterial infections. Also, postpartum hyperthyroidism affects women immediately after pregnancy. This is one of the most common postpartum health disorders, and it affects between ten and twenty percent of women.
Thyroid nodules are small growths or lumps that develop within the thyroid gland or on the surface of the gland. These nodes or nodules can eventually lead to thyroid overactivity and excessive thyroid hormones in the blood. Sometimes, an overactive thyroid is caused by misuse or abuse of thyroid medication. If medication is prescribed to deal with an underactive thyroid, and this medication is taken excessively, the thyroid may become hyperactive. This can be a very serious issue because it can cause thyroid fatigue or permanent damage.
What Symptoms Indicate Hyperthyroidism?
It is often difficult to diagnose an overactive thyroid simply because the symptoms associated with this disorder are similar to those associated with other diseases and illnesses. Thyroid enlargement is one of the most effective ways to detect a thyroid issue. Other symptoms can include anxiety or irritability, loose bowel movements, trouble sleeping, bulging eyes, changes in hair quality and thickness, heart beat arrhythmia, changes in menstrual cycle regularity, and excessive weight loss.
Can an Overactive Thyroid be Treated?
An overactive thyroid can be treated in one of three ways. Anti-thyroid medication may be prescribed to reduce the function of the thyroid. Alternatively, radioactive iodine may be taken orally to prevent the release of thyroid hormones. When medical management is not effective or appropriate, a surgical procedure to remove part or all of the thyroid may be necessary. Thyroid surgery can be a safe and effected treatment for overactive thyroid conditions.
If you have questions or concerns about thyroid problems see your local doctor who will arrange for you to see a thyroid surgeon.