The thyroid acts very much like a control center of your body. It is in charge of regulating your metabolism (ability to burn energy); brain development (even into old age as the brain never ceases to improve itself); respiration; heart rate; muscle strength; nervous system; body temperature; cholesterol levels; menstrual cycle; and skin dryness. The gland is located in front of the neck just below the voice box (larynx) and is one of the glands that makes up the endocrine system. The endocrine system releases, stores and produces hormones that are used to direct cellular activity which in turn carry out the above mentioned actions. Signs of an overactive thyroid are indications that one could have what is called hyperthyroidism. This is when the thyroid has been pushed into excessive output which can cause all sorts of problems.
What to Look For
Hyperthyroidism can manifest through many different signs. It takes some people many months or even years to connect these symptoms to something as serious as an overactive thyroid and by the time it is diagnosed the thyroid is almost too damaged to reverse itself. Therefore, life long hormone stimulating drugs must be taken on a daily basis to maintain homeostasis (optimal health). The following is a list of some of the signs of an overactive thyroid. These should be considered only if one or more seem to be constant. Many of these symptoms are common, everyday, normal challenges and should not be confused with hyperthyroidism unless continual or chronic (keeps coming back).
- Weight Loss
- Hand tremors
- Heart palpitations or rapidity
- Muscle weakness
- Swollen, bulging eyes
- Shortness of breath
- Goiter development (enlarged thyroid often presented as a swollen neck)
- In few cases there have been reports of thickened skin growth over the back of the feet, shins, back, face and hands.
What Might Cause It
There are several causes of an overactive thyroid with Graves’ disease being one of the most common. This is an autoimmune disease that makes the body’s immune system become confused and attack itself. Some believe Graves’ is the result of the development of an antibody that tricks the thyroid into overproducing hormones. Other causes include thyroid nodules, inflammation of the thyroid, mismanaged hypothyroid (under active) medication or overconsumption of iodine.
What Can Be Done
Adjusting your diet and lifestyle could help prevent or possibly rebalance the thyroid. Eat foods high in B vitamins and iron such as fresh vegetables, whole grains and sea vegetables (although too many sea vegetables could contain too much iodine). If caught early there have been some reports of rebalancing the thyroid through alternative treatments such as using the herbs bugleweed, motherwort or lemon balm; acupuncture and even homeopathy. These treatments should be used only under the guidance of a professional naturopathic doctor.
These signs of an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) are your body’s way of sending up red flags for you to pay attention to. It is more common in women (over 60) and if left untreated can cause serious issues.
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