What Is Hyperthyroidism?
Hyperthyroidism, also called overactive thyroid, is a condition where the thyroid gland makes more thyroid hormones than the body needs. The two main hormones dictating the metabolism & other functions of the body are thyroxine (T-4) and triiodothyronine (T-3).
Causes Of Hyperthyroidism
The most common cause of hyperthyroidism is Graves’ disease, where the immune system attacks the thyroid cells with antibodies, resulting in the release of too much hormone.
Another cause of high thyroid levels could be the inflammatory conditions of thyroid gland called thyroiditis.
Types Of Hyperthyroidism
Hyperthyroidism can be overt or subclinical. Overt hyperthyroidism is characterized by low serum thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) concentrations and raised serum concentrations of thyroid hormones: thyroxine (T4), tri-iodothyronine (T3), or both. Subclinical hyperthyroidism is characterized by low serum TSH, but normal serum T4 and T3 concentrations.
Symptoms Of Hyperthyroidism
Most of the symptoms of hyperthyroidism are due to spike in metabolism. Because the thyroid hormones have an action on almost all the symptoms of the body, there is a variety of symptoms that may develop in different systems of the body. These include
- Nervousness, anxiety, and insomnia.
- Pigmented thickened skin, primarily involving the pretibial area.
- Proptosis (bulging of eyeballs).
- Intolerance to heat.
- Sensitivity to heat.
- A swollen thyroid called goiter.
- Dramatic weight loss.
- Fast heart rate.
- Trembling of hands and fingers.
- Altered menstrual cycle.
How To Diagnose Hyperthyroidism?
A simplest way, is to check for blood levels of T3 & T4 levels. Diagnosing other conditions related to the thyroid gland may require an ultrasound or radioactive iodine uptake scan of the gland.
Lifestyle Interventions For Hyperthyroidism
Lifestyle is an important part of lowering the risk factors for hyperthyroidism. This includes eating a balanced diet, taking nutritional supplements if necessary, and getting adequate physical activity during the week.
There is no special diet that can resolve a thyroid disorder.
However, reducing the intake of excessive iodine in the diet and avoiding iodine supplements can help reduce imbalances in thyroid activity.
A balanced diet can help preserve thyroid health. Dietary changes that can be included are as follows
- Avoiding smoking.
- A low-iodine diet is a diet with less than 50 micrograms (mcg) of iodine per day advisable as too much iodine can make hyperthyroidism worse by leading the thyroid gland to produce too much thyroid hormone.
- Calcium and vitamin D are vital because hyperthyroidism in a long run can cause problems with bone mineral density.
- Foods and drinks containing caffeine can worsen the symptoms of hyperthyroidism like palpitations, tremors, anxiety, and insomnia.
- Eating at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily.
- Maintaining optimum hydration.
- Consuming foods high in fiber which includes whole grains, potatoes, rice, and pasta.
- Using unsaturated fats in cooking.
- Opting for lean proteins, such as chicken, beans, legumes, fish, and other sources.
Individuals with hyperthyroidism should follow their treatment plan as advised by the physician along with the above dietary recommendations for better management of the condition. Also, a regular checkup of the blood thyroid levels is crucial to prevent any complications.
Author: Dr. Poonam Vichare (INFS Faculty)