Hyperthyroidism can be described as a condition in which the thyroid gland is overactive, causing it to produce excessive amounts of a hormone known as thyroxin. In case you do suffer from hyperthyroidism, you are quite likely to see a significant increase in your metabolism, which in turn will probably lead to other visible symptoms like sudden weight loss, irregular or rapid heartbeat, irritability, excessive perspiration and nervousness. While anyone can suffer from hyperthyroidism, it is generally found to be a lot more prevalent in women, as compared to in men. There are several different factors that could cause the thyroid gland to become more active than normal. However studies indicate that most people who have hyperthyroidism are genetically inclined to developing hyperthyroidism. Therefore, in case there is any member in your family who has thyroid, it is best for you to consult a doctor and undergo a checkup too.

There are many individuals who think that hyperthyroidism is not really serious and therefore, does not require any medical treatment. However, if left unchecked, there are several complications that could arise because of the excess production of the thyroxin hormone. Some of the common health complications that may be seen because of hyperthyroidism include heart conditions, brittle bones, eye problems, skin ailments and thyrotoxic crisis. Therefore, in order to prevent such complications from cropping up, it is best to seek medical attention as soon as the symptoms of a thyroid disorder become evident.

Fortunately, there are many different ways in which hyperthyroidism can be treated. In rare cases the doctor may advise you to undergo surgery, where a part of the thyroid gland may need to be removed. Once the condition is diagnosed and treated, you may notice a drastic improvement in your health. Therefore, it is advisable to consult a doctor and identify the best possible treatment options. Based on factors like your age, overall health, medical history as well as the severity of the condition, it could take weeks or even months for the condition to get better. Make sure that you follow through with the treatment and regular checkups, whether or not you believe the condition has improved.

Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism

Diagnosing hyperthyroidism can be a bit of a challenge for many people, mainly because of the fact that its symptoms can very often be confused with those seen in other conditions. There are several different signs that could be indicative of hyperthyroidism. Given below are some of the most common symptoms for hyperthyroidism:

  • Drastic weight loss, even though there are no changes in appetite and the diet remains the same or perhaps increases
  • Arrhythmia or irregular heartbeats
  • Palpitations, which are characterized by shortness in breath and pounding heartbeat
  • Tachycardia or rapid heartbeat, usually more than 100 beats to a minute
  • Emotions like nervousness, irritability and anxiety
  • Tremors mainly in the hands and fingers
  • Excessive perspiration
  • Alteration in menstrual cycles and patterns
  • Increase in sensitivity to heat
  • Changes in bowel movements, especially where they become more frequent
  • Swelling at the base of the neck, due to enlargement of the goiter or thyroid gland
  • Muscle weakness accompanied by fatigue
  • Difficulty in sleeping

The symptoms for hyperthyroidism are a bit more subtle in older people, mainly because some of the medications prescribed for blood pressure or other such conditions mask the symptoms. However they may also experience heat intolerance and the tendency to get tired more quickly.

Unfortunately, many of the symptoms of hyperthyroidism are common to other conditions, which is why this problem is a bit more challenging to diagnose. Therefore, these symptoms should never be left unchecked. It is important to visit a doctor and undergo a proper diagnosis as soon as any of the symptoms for hyperthyroidism are seen.

Causes of Hyperthyroidism

The thyroid gland produces two main hormones, which are the triiodothyronine hormone (commonly referred to as T–3) & the thyroxin hormone (T–4). Both of these hormones play a crucial role in your overall health and well being because of the significant influence they exert over the functioning of various bodily processes. They regulate the production of protein, maintain the rate at which carbohydrate and fats are utilized, influence your heart rate and regulate your body temperature. However, there are a number of health problems that could trigger off the excess production of T–3 and T–4 hormones, leading to hyperthyroidism. Some of the most common health conditions that can cause hyperthyroidism include:

  • Thyroiditis: There are several reasons, most of which are unknown, that can cause an inflammation in the thyroid gland. Because of the inflammation, the excess thyroid hormones that are stored in the gland can leak into the bloodstream, increasing the amount of T–4 in the blood.
  • Hyper-functioning of the Thyroid Nodules: Health problems like Plummer’s disease, toxic adenoma and toxic multi-nodular goiter occur when the adenomas of the thyroid gland begin to produce too much T–4. A higher than normal amount of T–4 hormone could be produced by one or more adenoma. The exact factors that could cause the adenomas to produce too much T–4 are still not clear.
  • Graves’ Disease: This is an autoimmune disorder in which the antibodies that are produced by your immune system stimulate the thyroid gland. As a result, your thyroid gland begins to produce an excess amount of T–4. The exact causes of Graves’ disease are still not clear, but scientists believe that genetic disposition is the most likely factor.

Remedies for Hyperthyroidism

Once the diagnosis of hyperthyroidism has been confirmed through blood tests, a physical exam and other important screening procedures, it is best to start the treatment, without any delay. At first, your health care provider may advise you to control the condition, using home remedies and medication. It may take a while for your doctor to identify the right combination of remedies and medicines that work. In case these options do not bring about the desired results, you may need to undergo surgery.

It is a well-known fact that exercise improves overall health and this is true even if you have hyperthyroidism. Exercising for around half an hour each day can help improve this condition considerably, by increasing your energy levels and reducing fatigue. In case you have Graves’ disease, then exercising with weights is more important, as it can improve your bone density.

Relaxation techniques can help you in improving your overall outlook towards life. In addition to that, with a lower amount of stress, you are more likely to deal with health problems in a better manner. Therefore, yoga, deep breathing, massage therapy and meditation can reduce some of the symptoms of hyperthyroidism to some extent.

In case you suffer from hyperthyroidism due to Graves’ disease, you need to take additional care of your eyes and skin. Given below are a few suggestions that can help you do so:

  • Apply a cool compress on to your eyes as regular intervals, so that the moisture can provide your eyes some relief
  • Wear sunglasses while venturing out into the hot sun, as protruding eyes are more vulnerable to the harsh rays of the sun
  • Relieve the dryness in your eyes, with lubricating eye drops. Eye drops that contain redness removers should be strictly avoided
  • Sleep on an incline so that the head of your bed is elevated as compared to the rest of your body. This will reduce the flow of blood to your head thereby lessening the pressure on your eyes.

However, these remedies for hyperthyroidism and Graves’ disease should only be used if approved by a doctor.

Diet for Hyperthyroidism

While a nutritious diet is important for overall health and wellbeing, it does not really have any effect on the development of hyperthyroidism. A diet on its own cannot reverse hyperthyroidism, but it can control the symptoms to a great extent. Therefore, in case you suffer from hyperthyroidism, it is important for you to follow a balanced diet that provides you with all the nutritional requirements.

Most health care providers claim that a diet for hyperthyroidism patients should be high in vitamins, minerals and protein. The calorie content of food items need not be very low either. Here are some foods that should make for a healthy addition to a hyperthyroidism diet:

  • Skinless poultry, mainly chicken and turkey
  • Eggs
  • Cereals
  • Lean meat
  • Fish
  • Pulses
  • Yellow fruits, which include papaya and mango
  • Milk and other dairy products
  • Cruciferous vegetables like kale, cauliflower and broccoli
  • Sea vegetables such as hijiki, dulse and kombu

At the same time, there are certain food items that worsen the condition and therefore, they should be strictly avoided by hyperthyroidism patients. Artificial sweeteners or products that contain aspartame like diet sodas, should be eliminated from a diet for hyperthyroidism, along with foods that are high in iodine. Processed meats like sausage and hamburgers should also be strictly avoided, as they can worsen the problem.

Suggestion for Hyperthyroidism

Fortunately, hyperthyroidism can be cured or controlled in most people if the appropriate treatment is administered promptly. However, it is important to make sure that the condition is closely monitored by a medical health care provider at all times. It is also important for friends, relatives, family members and close associates of a hyperthyroidism patient to keep themselves well informed about the disorder, so as to be better prepared.

In case you are past the age of 50 or are already on some medications for any other preexisting medical condition, it is important for you to keep your doctor informed about it, before you start hyperthyroidism treatment. This is because there are certain medications that can interfere with the effects of hyperthyroidism treatment.

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