When you go to your doctor’s office for a checkup, they usually put you on a scale to determine your weight and roll up your sleeve to measure your blood pressure. They may even take your temperature or check your blood sugar levels. However, they probably do not check your thyroid.
The thyroid is one of those body parts most of us never think about until something goes wrong with it. Many people don’t even know where it is located or what it is supposed to do. That’s why it may be helpful to know the tips for identifying an overactive thyroid.
The Function of Your Thyroid
Your body is made up of hundreds of bones, joints, blood vessels, glands, and organs that all work together to give you what is known as a healthy body. If even one small component is just a little off, it can cause problems for a host of other areas.
One of the most important functions is the job done by your glands. These are tiny organs positioned throughout your body that secrete the substances you need to live, grow, and stay healthy.
For example, the pancreas is a gland near your kidneys that produces insulin, which helps your body handle sugar. The esophageal glands, located in your throat, secrete the mucus that acts as a protective lubricant for the areas of your digestive system. A pituitary gland, which you can find just below your brain, is responsible for releasing several hormones that relate to reproductive functions.
Your thyroid is also in your throat, specifically enfolding the trachea, releasing hormones related to metabolism. For the record, metabolism is the term used to describe the procedure by which your body processes the food you consume for energy. Where the food goes, what your body takes from it, and how it is all used to keep you alive is metabolism.
The thyroid gland works to regulate your metabolism. This includes cell growth and the way your body processes the calories you take in as well as how they are used and stored. For this reason, many people equate metabolism with weight gains or losses.
You may have heard of a condition called a goiter. This occurs when your thyroid grows irregularly for some reason and becomes enlarged, where it is then visible to everyone. Goiters are now quite rare in America because modern medicine has taught us how to regulate our iodine intake, which was a major source of the ailment.
In the case of weight, it turns out that your physician gives the best advice. The only surefire way to lose weight is to eat less and exercise more. When your body burns off more calories than you consume, weight loss occurs.
However, this reciprocal relationship can be thrown off if the hormones secreted by your thyroid are out of balance. Sometimes your thyroid gland underperforms, not creating enough of the necessary hormones, and this is called hypothyroidism. When your thyroid is overactive, meaning that it has gone haywire and is releasing too much of the hormones, it is called hyperthyroidism.
Symptoms of an Overactive Thyroid
Women are more likely to develop thyroid issues. For many, these problems tend to manifest themselves during times when they can be mistaken as symptoms of other diseases or events, such as menopause and hypertension.
A condition called Graves’ disease is perhaps the most popular source for a large amount of overactive thyroid cases. It is listed in a category labeled as autoimmune disorders; one of many conditions characterized as a faulty signal that triggers the body to send an erroneous message to attack itself.
Among the warning signs that you might have an overactive thyroid are ill-temperedness, changes in bowel movements, excessive perspiration, and problems with eyesight. You could also experience unexplained weight loss or drastic changes in appetite. People with hyperthyroidism may also notice variations in everything from hair and skin to the heart and muscles.
Your physician may initially diagnose these indicators as just something that comes with the process of aging or blame it on any recent lifestyle changes you might have made. However, if these symptoms are serious enough to cause interference in your normal schedule, such as an inability to work, exercise, or take care of your family, you should definitely request a blood test to check your thyroid for any abnormalities.
Treatment for Overactive Thyroid
Just as everyone is different, there is no standard treatment that will work for all, so there are several treatment options for hyperthyroidism. An endocrinologist, a doctor that specializes in working with glands, will make a determination for treatment based on your symptoms.
He or she may prescribe one of several medications currently available. Some of them work to regulate your thyroid’s hormone production levels and others help to suppress the element of thyroid imbalance. In severe cases, your specialist may opt to remove the thyroid altogether.