Function of the Thyroid Gland
Your thyroid gland regulates and governs your metabolism by producing the thyroid hormones T3 and T4. If your thyroid does not produce enough T3 and T4, you have what is called hypothyroidism, which results in uncontrollable weight gain, fatigue, depression, and other issues. Severe, untreated hypothyroidism can result in severe weight gain, coma, or death.
So, obviously, it’s important to your health that your thyroid produces enough T3 and T4, but what if it produces too much? Australia has a major issue with obesity, so, at first, you might think that hyperthyroidism would be a good thing, as it can result in weight loss. However, weight loss alone is not necessarily healthy, especially when it is unchecked and uncontrollable, as in the case of hyperthyroidism.
If you have experienced sudden, inexplicable weight loss, along with fatigue, depression, sensitivity to heat, increased heart rate, and/or increased appetite, you may have hyperthyroidism. It’s also possible that you are suffering from another disease or disorder. These symptoms sometimes occur in cases of clinical depression or if a patient has a parasite in their digestive system. Do not attempt to self-diagnose. If you are concerned about your health, consult with your doctor. Don’t be afraid to ask about hyperthyroidism or other potential diagnoses, but do not push the point. Overwhelming your doctor with your own opinions of your ailment may lead him or her to overlook some important symptom or symptoms.
Weight Loss Does Not Always Equal Health
If your doctor thinks you have hyperthyroidism, you will be referred to a thyroid specialist. Your thyroid specialist will pay thorough attention to your symptoms and will be able to give you a proper diagnosis and treatment. But what if your only symptoms seem to be weight loss and increased appetite? Should you still follow through with treatments when all you suffer from is eating anything you want and still losing weight? The answer is a resounding yes. You may only have these symptoms now, but symptoms of untreated hyperthyroidism get progressively worse.
Untreated hyperthyroidism may be due to Graves disease, in which case your eyes may protrude out of your eye sockets. You’ll experience throbbing in your eyes, headaches, swollen, dry, red, and itchy eyes, light sensitivity, and blurred vision. Even if you do not experience symptoms of Graves disease, untreated hyperthyroidism can also result in goitre, swelling of the thyroid gland. This is expressed in a painful swelling near the base of the neck. You may also experience difficulty sleeping, sensitive, thin skin, and excessive sweating. These are all signs that you absolutely need to go to the doctor.
Unchecked weight loss, whether from hyperthyroidism, a parasite, depression, or some other cause is no laughing matter. If untreated, this can lead to serious consequences from malnutrition. As your metabolism continues to work at break-neck speeds, you won’t be able to eat enough to keep up with it, and your body will begin eating itself. You can and will lose muscle and bone mass. This is dangerous.
Treatment of hyperthyroidism often involves surgery to remove the overactive thyroid. It is usually necessary to remove the entire thyroid gland. In this situation you will be placed on hormone replacement therapy, as you would if you had hypothyroidism – which, actually, will be the case if the thyroid is removed. This treatment simply means you’ll be taking hormone medication on a regular basis. Your weight and energy levels will return to balance, and you will be able to live a healthy, normal life. Surgery is a routine process, and hyperthyroidism is painful and potentially serious. If surgery is necessary, it will be a lot less painful than continuing to live with the hyperthyroidism untreated.
If you have questions or concerns about hyperthyroidism or thyroid problems, see your local doctor who will arrange for you to see a thyroid surgeon.