You can think of thyroid hormone as a kind of Energizer Bunny. The hormone essentially kick starts the body’s metabolism so that we have the energy to get up at 3 am with that screaming baby and still go to work the same day.
Like most things in life however, thyroid hormone levels don’t always work out as planned. Sometimes there is too much and sometimes not enough. Let’s start with the condition known as hyperthyroidism or too much thyroid. In the next blog I will discuss hypothyroidism or too little thyroid.
High thyroid levels have many causes. If you happen to live in an area with too much iodine in the ground water, the iodine can increase the production of thyroid. Inflammation of the thyroid gland does the same thing. Way deep in the brain the hypothalamus and pituitary gland regulate the thyroid gland. If either gland malfunctions, this can lead to high or low levels of thyroid. And of course certain medications will jump start thyroid production. These include of course thyroid hormone replacement. Thyroid cancer may present with elevated levels as well. An ultrasound of your thyroid will give your doctor the information necessary to help diagnose whether cancer or some other condition exists.
If your thyroid level is too high, you will feel like you had just consumed a triple Latte. Shaking, rapid heart rate, sweating, anxiety, weight loss, diarrhea, insomnia and heat intolerance are some of the symptoms. And no, taking a thyroid supplement-natural or not- is not the way to lose weight. Sometimes, a thyroid storm results. This is a very dangerous, even life threatening condition, with super high levels of thyroid. Heart attack, stroke, seizures and even death can happen.
Hyperthyroidism is treated by first identifying the cause. If it’s too much iodine, this needs to be decreased. Special drugs are used to slow down production. Often, the thyroid gland burns itself out. This means that eventually you will need to start thyroid replacement. Your doctor will monitor your thyroid levels.
So if you feel like you are hyper all the time, see your doctor.