Page 33 - March 2021 Hustle Mama Magazine
P. 33

The thyroid gland is a tiny, butterfly-shaped organ at the bottom of your neck. This small gland has a significant effect on your body. The hormones it produces affect almost all bodily processes, including metabolism, fertility and sexual function, an internal thermostat, mood, and more.
The American Thyroid Association concludes that more than 12% of Americans will develop a thyroid condition at some point in their life. However, up to 60% of those with thyroid disease are unaware of their condition. Women are more likely than men to have thyroid problems, with around one in every eight women developing a problem at some point in her life.
Hyperthyroidism, in which too much thyroid hormone circulates in the body, is a common thyroid condition, affecting more than one in every hundred Americans. While there are many effective hyperthyroidism treatments, uncontrolled hyperthyroidism can lead to serious, even life- threatening problems. Read on to learn more about hyperthyroidism, the symptoms, and how to live with this condition.
How the Thyroid Works
The thyroid gland is part of your endocrine system. The endocrine system is the network of glands throughout your body that produces hormones – powerful chemicals that help turn on or off all of the body's various functions. The thyroid is an essential element of the endocrine system, producing hormones that affect the brain, heart, kidney function, skin maintenance, digestion, fertility, temperature regulation, muscle strength, and more.
To produce thyroid hormones, the thyroid uses iodine from our food to create two hormones: triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4), which affect the function of all the cells in the body. The thyroid also produces a more targeted hormone, calcitonin, which helps regulate the amount of calcium in your blood.
The pituitary gland, located in the brain, tells the thyroid how much hormone to produce by releasing thyroid-stimulating hormones (TSH). When everything is functioning as it should, the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland carefully monitor hormone levels in the body. The pituitary releases TSH to stimulate the thyroid to produce just the right amount of thyroid hormone. These hormones circulate in the blood and are taken up by various organs to help run just about every system in the body.
Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism
While the thyroid gland usually keeps our metabolism and other functions humming along correctly, sometimes it goes haywire. When the thyroid produces too little hormone, it causes hypothyroidism, in which everything in the body slows down. People with hypothyroidism gain weight, feel cold, fight fatigue and depression, and more.
In contrast, with hyperthyroidism, too much thyroid hormone is present in the body, causing bodily functions to speed up. Symptoms include:
Weight loss, despite increased appetite Diarrhea
Lighter or missed periods
Rapid heartbeat (tachycardia), irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia), or a pounding heart (palpitations)
Anxiety, irritability, and nervousness Uncontrolled sweating and heat intolerance Difficulty sleeping
Thin, brittle hair
Red, swollen skin on the shins and feet
In some cases, people with hyperthyroidism caused by an autoimmune condition known as Graves’ disease will develop an eye condition known as Graves’ ophthalmopathy. In this condition, the same autoimmune antibodies that cause the thyroid to overproduce thyroid hormone also cause inflammation in the tissues behind the eye. This can cause bulging eyes, dry eyes, watery eyes, and eye pain and inflammation.
Graves’ ophthalmopathy usually develops soon after hyperthyroid symptoms, but it can develop years later. In some people, eye irritation will be the first sign of a thyroid problem. Many cases of Graves’ ophthalmopathy will resolve on their own, but all claims should be monitored by an eye doctor, as it can cause vision loss in extreme cases.
If hyperthyroidism goes untreated, several complications can result, including:
Heart problems: Hyperthyroidism increases the heart rate. Over time, this stresses the heart, increasing the risk of heart disease, stroke, and congestive heart failure.
Brittle bones: When your body has high thyroid hormone levels, your bones can’t properly absorb calcium, leading to osteoporosis.
Thyroid storm (thyrotoxic crisis) - In rare cases, the body produces far too much thyroid hormone, leading to a potentially life-threatening condition marked by rapid heart rate, sweating, high fever, and confusion. Thyroid storm requires immediate medical treatment.

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