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What Does It Mean When Your Thyroid Is Overactive

Is It Safe To Take Levothyroxine With An Underactive Thyroid

Overactive Thyroid

For about one in seven of the 10-12 million Americans with an underactive thyroid gland, conventional treatment with the synthetic thyroid hormone levothyroxine just isnt enough.1 Sometimes, the cause is simple and easy to fix you may need a dose adjustment, a change in when you take your thyroid medication or in where you store it, for example.

What Other Health Problems Could I Have Because Of Hyperthyroidism

If hyperthyroidism isnt treated, it can cause some serious health problems, including

  • an irregular heartbeat that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure, and other heart-related problems
  • an eye disease called Graves ophthalmopathy that can cause double vision, light sensitivity, and eye pain, and rarely can lead to vision loss
  • thinning bones and osteoporosis

What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Hyperthyroidism

At first, you might not notice the signs or symptoms of hyperthyroidism. Symptoms usually begin slowly. But, over time, a faster metabolism can cause symptoms such as:

  • Weight loss, even if you eat the same or more food
  • Eating more than usual
  • Diarrhea or more bowel movements than normal
  • Fewer and lighter menstrual periods than normal
  • Changes in your eyes that can include bulging of the eyes, redness, or irritation

Hyperthyroidism raises your risk for , a condition that causes weak bones that break easily. In fact, hyperthyroidism might affect your bones before you have any of the other symptoms of the condition. This is especially true of women who have gone through menopause or who are already at high risk of osteoporosis.

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Whos At Risk For Hyperthyroidism

According to the National Institute of Health , hyperthyroidism affects approximately 1.2% of the population in the US. Although it occurs in both men and women, its up to 10 times more likely in females.

Youre at higher risk for hyperthyroidism if you:

  • Have a family history of thyroid disease
  • Have pernicious anemia
  • Have primary adrenal insufficiency, also known as Addisons disease
  • Consume an iodine-rich diet or medications containing iodine
  • Are over the age of 60
  • Were pregnant within the past 6 months
  • Had thyroid surgery or a thyroid problem such as a goiter also known as a swollen thyroid gland

What are hyperthyroidism symptoms?

Though an overactive thyroid brings on a constellation of high thyroid symptoms , some of them dont seem obviously linked to the condition . Heres what to look for.

Controversy Over Optimal Tsh

What Does It Mean When Your Thyroid Is High

While most laboratories define a normal TSH as between roughly 0.5 mU/l and 5.0 mU/l, some experts argue that the upper limit of a normal TSH should be loweraround 2.5 mU/l.

The reasoning behind this is that the vast majority of adults without thyroid disease have a TSH value between 0.45 and 4.12 mU/l.

In addition, some physicians believe older patients should have a TSH level that is greater than 4.0 mU/l or 5.0 mU/l, since TSH normally increases with age.

Doctors can avoid some of this controversy simply by looking at each person as an individual. For example, a person who still has significant symptoms of hypothyroidism at a TSH of 4.0 mU/l may do better with a goal TSH of around 1.0 mU/l.

In contrast, someone who has health riskssuch as heart disease or osteoporosismay benefit from having a goal TSH that is higher, perhaps around 5.0 mU/l or 6.0 mU/l.

In pregnancy, TSH should not be allowed to rise above 3.0 mU/l for the health of both the baby and mother.

Also Check: Does Graves Disease Go Away After Thyroid Removed

Changes In Menstrual Periods

Because hyperthyroidism tells your body to move faster, the menstrual cycle can become lighter and faster. You may also notice longer periods of time in between your periods.

On their own, these symptoms may indicate other medical problems. However, when you or your doctor identify more than one of these symptoms at a time, there is a good chance its due to thyroid problems.

Thankfully, most thyroid disorders are treatable and are not life-threatening. However, if you notice a rapid heart rate and experience either a fever or deliriousness, you should call your doctor immediately. These are signs of a hyperthyroid complication called thyrotoxic crisis.

What Is A Goiter

A goiter is an unusually enlarged thyroid gland. It may happen only for a short time and may go away on its own without treatment. Or it could be a symptom of another thyroid disease that requires treatment. goiter is more common in women than in men and especially in women before menopause.

Some common causes of goiter include:

    Usually, the only symptom of a goiter is a swelling in your neck. It may be large enough that you can see it or feel the lump with your hand. A very large goiter can also cause a tight feeling in your throat, coughing, or problems swallowing or breathing.

    Your doctor will do to see if it is caused by another thyroid disease.

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    What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Thyroid Nodules

    Most thyroid nodules do not cause symptoms and are not cancerous. Some thyroid nodules make too much thyroid hormone, causing hyperthyroidism. Sometimes, nodules grow so big that they cause problems with swallowing or breathing. About one-third of nodules are found by the patient, another third by the doctor, and the other third through an imaging test of the neck.

    You can sometimes see or feel a thyroid nodule yourself. Stand in front of a mirror and raise your chin slightly. Look for a bump on either side of your windpipe below your Adam’s apple. If the bump moves up and down when you swallow, it may be a thyroid nodule. Ask your doctor to look at it.

    What You Can Do To Improve Symptoms

    What Is Overactive Thyroid

    Eating a proper diet, with a focus on calcium and sodium, is important, especially in preventing hyperthyroidism. Work with your doctor to create healthy guidelines for your diet, nutritional supplements, and exercise.

    Hyperthyroidism can also cause your bones to become weak and thin, which can lead to osteoporosis. Taking vitamin D and calcium supplements during and after treatment can help strengthen your bones. Your doctor can tell you how much vitamin D and calcium to take each day. Learn more about the health benefits of vitamin D.

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    What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Hypothyroidism

    Symptoms of hypothyroidism develop slowly, often over several years. At first, you may feel tired and sluggish. Later, you may develop other signs and symptoms of a slowed-down metabolism, including:

    • Feeling cold when other people do not
    • Constipation
    • A hoarse voice
    • More than usual menstrual bleeding

    You also may have high LDL or “bad” cholesterol, which can raise your risk for .

    Treatments For An Overactive Thyroid

    An overactive thyroid is usually treatable.

    The main treatments are:

    • medicine that stops your thyroid producing too much of the thyroid hormones
    • radioiodine treatment where a type of radiotherapy is used to destroy cells in the thyroid, reducing its ability to produce thyroid hormones
    • surgery to remove some or all of your thyroid, so that it no longer produces thyroid hormones

    Each of these treatments has benefits and drawbacks. You’ll usually see a specialist in hormonal conditions to discuss which treatment is best for you.

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    Can You Still Have A Problem If Your Tsh Is Normal

    The TSH test is a highly sensitive indicator of your overall thyroid health, says Brittany Henderson, MD, a board-certified endocrinologist at Charleston Thyroid Center in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. Interpretation can be difficult because there is a wide range of normal on the TSH scale.

    Medications and supplements youre currently taking can affect the results of your TSH test. One example is biotin, which can falsely show low TSH levels.

    Whats considered normal is influenced by several factors:

    • Age
    • Pregnancy
    • Ethnicity

    Research has shown that levels of TSH tend to increase with age, decrease with pregnancy, and vary by ethnicity.

    Faq: Frequently Asked Questions

    Signs And Symptoms

    Is Graves disease the same as hyperthyroidism?

    Graves disease is an autoimmune disorder that leads to and is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism, but theyre not the same thing. While all patients with Graves disease have hyperthyroidism, patients with hyperthyroidism may not necessarily have Graves disease .

    In Graves disease, the body makes an antibody called thyroid-stimulating immunoglobulin , which causes the thyroid gland to make too much thyroid hormone . Graves disease runs in families and is more commonly found in women.

    Hypothyroidism vs Hyperthyroidism: Whats the difference?

    The difference all comes down to the prefix in each word: hyper means over or exaggeration, while hypo means under or beneath. When it comes to -thyroidism, hyper- means an overactive thyroid gland, and hypo- means an underactive one.

    Hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid gland, can actually be caused by treatments for hyperthyroidism, since their whole purpose is to decrease thyroid gland activity. Those treatments, however, can tip the balance too far.

    What should I eat to manage hyperthyroidism?

    With hyperthyroidism, its more important to manage what you dont eat. High levels of iodine consumption can exacerbate hyperthyroidism, so its a good idea to watch your iodine intake. Look for ways to limit iodine in your diet by restricting your consumption of foods such as: fish, seaweed, shrimp, dairy products, and grain products .

    Does hyperthyroidism go away on its own?

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    Causes Of An Overactive Thyroid

    There are several reasons why your thyroid can become overactive.

    These include:

    • Graves’ disease a condition where your immune system mistakenly attacks and damages the thyroid
    • lumps on the thyroid this extra thyroid tissue can produce thyroid hormones, causing your levels to be too high
    • some medicines such as amiodarone, which can be used to treat an irregular heartbeat

    Find out more about the causes of an overactive thyroid.

    The Medication Might Not Resolve Your Symptoms

    We’re all looking for a magic pill to help us to control our weight, make us feel more alert and stabilise our emotions. But unfortunately, even if your weight problems or tiredness are caused by a thyroid disorder, medication won’t necessarily provide the answer.

    Although thyroid disease may be a piece of the puzzle, it’s likely that it is not the butterfly-shaped gland in isolation causing your health concerns.

    “Quite often the symptoms don’t just have one cause. Sometimes it’s multifactorial,” explains Khoo. “Although a lot of people come to us with a symptom, believing it to be caused by their thyroid disease, quite often the problem may be caused by a patient’s lifestyle.”

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    What Does My Thyroid Do

    Located at the front of your neck, the thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland. Glands are organs that can be found all over your body. They create and release hormones substances that help your body function and grow. The thyroid gland plays a big part in many of your bodys main functions. Your thyroid gland regulates your body temperature and controls your heart rate and metabolism.

    When your thyroid gland is working correctly, your body is in balance and all of your systems function properly. If your thyroid stops working in the way its meant to creating too much or too little of thyroid hormones it can impact your entire body.

    Signs Your Thyroid Is Underactive

    Thyroid 101: What do your Thyroid tests results really mean?

    Your thyroida small gland in your neckhas a huge impact on your body. It produces thyroid hormone , which is responsible for keeping your metabolism, heartbeat, temperature, mood, and more, in check. An underactive thyroid doesn’t produce enough TH, and that can cause a host of health problems. Watch the video for the warning signs.

    Your thyroida small gland in your neckhas a huge impact on your body. It produces thyroid hormone , which is responsible for keeping your metabolism, heartbeat, temperature, mood, and more, in check. An underactive thyroid doesn’t produce enough TH, and that can cause a host of health problems. Watch the video for the warning signs.

    Don’t have time to watch? Read the full transcript:

    You’re exhausted: Too little thyroid hormone makes you feel fatigued.

    You’ve gained weight: An underactive thyroid slows your metabolism.

    Your skin is dry and itchy: Hair and nails might be brittle, too.

    You’re feeling down: Thyroid hormones can affect brain chemistry and mood.

    You’ve got brain fog: A sluggish thyroid can make you forgetful and fuzzy-headed.

    You’re all backed up: Digestion slows down, making you constipated.

    Your flow is like whoa: Say hello to longer, heavier periods with more cramps.

    You’re constantly cold: Total system slowdown = less energy burned. That means less body heat.

    Think you have a thyroid problem? See your doc and ask to get tested.

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    Underactive Thyroid Disease Means Thyroid Hormone Levels Are Too Low

    An underactive thyroid means thyroid hormone levels are too low. Its called hypothyroidism. Not having enough thyroid hormone slows down your body and its systems.

    Symptoms reflect that slow down. People with an underactive thyroid:

    • Feel cold all the time
    • Gain weight unexpectedly
    • Experience menstrual problems in some cases

    Hashimotos thyroiditis is the most common cause of hypothyroidism.

    There are various causes of an underactive thyroid. In the United States, Hashimotos thyroiditis is the most common cause. Hashimotos thyroiditis is an autoimmune disease where the immune system mistakenly attacks the thyroid gland. Other causes of hypothyroidism include problems with the thyroid gland itselfsuch as inflammationor a faulty pituitary gland. If the pituitary doesnt make enough TSH, the thyroid gland doesnt know it needs to make thyroid hormone.Treatment is fairly straightforwardthyroid hormone replacement. Its a daily medicine you take for the rest of your life. That may not sound so great at first. But once you and your doctor find the right dose, its a matter of sticking to it. And youll want to stick with it because replacing thyroid hormones will make you feel your best. Periodic monitoring will make sure your dose is still right and keep you feeling good.

    Overactive thyroid disease means thyroid hormone levels are too high.

    The symptoms are the opposite of hypothyroidism. People with too much thyroid hormone may:

    • Feel hot all the time
    • Sweat a lot

    Hypothyroidism Vs Hyperthyroidism: Whats The Difference

    Were you recently diagnosed with hypothyroidism? If so, youre likely aware your bodys thyroid gland is underactive. And youre probably all too familiar with some of the associated symptoms like tiredness, constipation, and forgetfulness. These symptoms are frustrating. But with the right treatment plan, they can become manageable.

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    Can I Develop Hyperthyroidism During Or After Pregnancy

    During early pregnancy, your body needs to produce more thyroid hormones than normal to help the baby develop. These hormones are particularly important for your babys brain and nervous system. Having thyroid hormone levels that are a little higher than normal is alright, but if your levels increase dramatically, your healthcare provider may need to form a treatment plan. High levels of hyperthyroidism can impact not only you, but also your baby.

    It can be difficult to diagnose hyperthyroidism during pregnancy because your thyroid hormone levels naturally increase and the other symptoms of pregnancy mask signs of hyperthyroidism.

    There is also a condition called postpartum thyroiditis that happens after your baby is born. This condition can happen during the first year after birth. Its more common in women who also have type 1 diabetes. Postpartum thyroiditis can start out as hyperthyroidism and then shift into hypothyroidism. However, this pattern doesnt happen to every woman with postpartum thyroiditis. If you begin having symptoms of a thyroid disease during or after pregnancy, talk to your healthcare provider.

    How Is Hyperthyroidism Treated

    You may have heard that you have a low or overactive ...

    There are many treatment options for hyperthyroidism. Depending on the cause of your hyperthyroidism, some options may be better for you over the long-term. Your healthcare provider will discuss each option with you and help you determine the best treatment for you.

    Treatment options for hyperthyroidism can include:

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    Other Medications And Herbs

    Some herbal supplements and medications can have an impact on thyroid hormone levels, either by competing with the body’s thyroid hormone activity, amplifying the effects of thyroid hormones, or altering medication absorption and activity.

    • Medications: Starting or stopping prescription drugs that you are taking for another condition besides your thyroid disease can affect your thyroid levels and your symptoms in a number of different ways. Some medications that may affect thyroid levels include certain cholesterol-lowering drugs, corticosteroids, growth hormone, lithium, and amiodarone.
    • Herbs: The Ayurvedic herb guggul, supplements such as tyrosine, products like kelp that contain iodine, and bladderwrack supplements are some of the naturopathic remedies that are known to increase or decrease thyroid function, alter test results, and produce a variety of thyroid related symptoms.

    It is best to ask your pharmacist and doctor about potential interactions.

    When To See A Gp

    See a GP if you have symptoms of an overactive thyroid.

    They’ll ask about your symptoms and if they think you might have a thyroid problem, they can arrange for a blood test to check how well your thyroid is working.

    If the blood test shows that you have an overactive thyroid, you may be referred for further tests to identify the cause.

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    How Are Thyroid Nodules Treated

    Treatment depends on the type of nodule or nodules that you have. Treatments include:

    • Watchful waiting. If your nodule is not cancerous, your doctor may decide to just watch your condition. You will get regular physical exams, blood tests, and perhaps thyroid ultrasound tests. If your nodule does not change, you may not need further treatment.
    • Surgery. Surgery may be necessary to take out nodules that may be cancerous or large nodules that cause problems breathing or swallowing.
    • Radioiodine. This type of treatment is helpful if you have nodules that make too much thyroid hormone. Radioiodine causes nodules to shrink and make smaller amounts of thyroid hormone.


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