Hyperthyroidism, also known as having an overactive thyroid, is a condition in which the thyroid glands within the body produce too much of the hormone thyroxine. The thyroid gland, located in the front of the neck, helps regulate the body’s energy and metabolism. When there is too much thyroid hormone present in the body, the body burns energy at a much faster rate and vital functions are performed at faster speeds.
Causes and Symptoms
Hyperthyroidism can be caused by genetic conditions such as Graves’ disease or a thyroid tumor and, in rare cases, by the pituitary gland high TSH levels—a thyroid-stimulating hormone. Short-term hyperthyroidism can be caused by thyroid inflammation from other conditions occurring in the body, such as viral infections or childbirth. In very rare cases, hyperthyroidism is caused by sources within the body but outside of the thyroid. Some common symptoms of hyperthyroidism include increased heart rate, sudden weight loss, sweating, and dramatic mood changes.
Naturally occurring hyperthyroidism, such as Graves’ disease, cannot be prevented; however, there are some ways to help prevent the development of nongenetic hyperthyroidism in the body.
- Don’t smoke. People who smoke can trigger Graves’ disease, thus increasing their chances of developing hyperthyroidism in the process.
- Monitor iodine. If your diet consists of foods that contain large quantities of iodine or if you get medical imaging tests with contrast dye made of iodine, you might increase your chances of developing hyperthyroidism. Medical research has shown that increased levels of iodine can trigger hyperthyroidism.
- Be aware. Be aware of your body and how you feel in order to monitor any symptoms that can accelerate the development of hyperthyroidism. Noncancerous tumors or growths on the thyroid or pituitary gland can cause hyperthyroidism. Any enlarged nodes in the neck can be detected during a self-exam and examined further by a doctor for diagnosis.
- Monitor medications. Taking large amounts of thyroid hormone can lead to elevated levels of the thyroid hormone in the body and cause hyperthyroidism. If you are currently taking thyroid hormone medications and are experiencing the symptoms of hyperthyroidism, consult your doctor.
- Seek professional advice. Your doctor should perform the proper examinations, testing and diagnosis for any thyroid conditions that you may have. If you have signs of hyperthyroidism or you suspect that your attempts at hyperthyroidism prevention treatment are not working, then you should seek the advice and care of a medical professional.