Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland produces too much of the hormones (T4, T3, or both). It can accelerate your body’s metabolism, causing unintentional weight loss and a rapid or irregular heartbeat.
Several treatments are available for hyperthyroidism including anti-thyroid medications and radioactive iodine to slow the production of thyroid hormones. Sometimes, hyperthyroidism treatment involves surgery to remove all or a part of your thyroid gland.
Symptoms of hyperthyroidism
Hyperthyroidism can mimic other health problems, which can make it difficult to be diagnosed. It can also cause a wide variety of signs and symptoms, including:
- Unintentional weight loss
- Rapid heartbeat
- Irregular heartbeat
- Pounding of your heart
- Increased appetite
- Nervousness, anxiety and irritability
- Tremor — usually a fine trembling in your hands and fingers
- Changes in menstrual patterns
- Increased sensitivity to heat
- Changes in bowel patterns
- An enlarged thyroid gland (goiter), which may appear as a swelling at the base of your neck
- Fatigue, muscle weakness
- Difficulty sleeping
- Skin thinning
- Fine, brittle hair
Older adults are more likely to have either no signs or symptoms or subtle ones, such as
- an increased heart rate
- heat intolerance
- Tendency to become tired during ordinary activities.
Causes of hyperthyroidism
A variety of conditions can cause hyperthyroidism. Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disorder, is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism. It causes antibodies to stimulate the thyroid to secrete too much hormone. Graves’ disease occurs more often in women than in men.
Other causes of hyperthyroidism include:
- Excess iodine, a key ingredient in T4 and T3
- Thyroiditis, or inflammation of the thyroid, which causes T4 and T3 to leak out of the gland
- Tumors of the ovaries or testes
- Benign tumors of the thyroid or pituitary gland
- Large amounts of tetraiodothyronine taken through dietary supplements or medication
Risk factors for hyperthyroidism
You are more likely to develop hyperthyroidism if you
- Are a female
- Have a family history, particularly of Graves’ disease
- Have a personal history of certain chronic illnesses, such as type 1 diabetes, pernicious anemia and primary adrenal insufficiency
How do doctors diagnose hyperthyroidism?
The first step in diagnosis is to get a complete medical history and physical exam. This can reveal these common signs of hyperthyroidism:
- Weight loss
- Rapid pulse
- Elevated blood pressure
- Protruding eyes
- Enlarged thyroid gland
Other tests may be performed to further evaluate your diagnosis. These include:
- Cholesterol test
- T4, free T4, T3 evaluation
- Thyroid stimulating hormone level test
- Triglyceride test
- The thyroid scan and uptake
- CT or MRI scans
Medication for hyperthyroidism
The most common treatment for treating hyperthyroidism is to use Antithyroid medications. Anti-thyroid medications such as methimazole (Tapazole) stop the thyroid from making hormones.
Radioactive iodine is often given to patients with hyperthyroidism. It effectively destroys the cells that produce hormones.
However, the Common side effects of using radioactive iodine include dry mouth, dry eyes, sore throat, and changes in taste. Precautions may need to be taken for a short time after treatment to prevent radiation spread to others.
A section or all of your thyroid gland may be surgically removed. You will then have to take thyroid hormone supplements to prevent hypothyroidism, which occurs when you have an underactive thyroid that secretes too little hormone. Also, beta-blockers such as propranolol can help control your rapid pulse, sweating, anxiety, and high blood pressure. Most people respond well to this treatment.
Natural Treatment for hyperthyroidism
If you have hyperthyroidism, you need to take
1. Low-iodine foods
The mineral iodine plays a key role in making thyroid hormones. A low-iodine diet helps to reduce thyroid hormones. Add these foods to your daily diet:
- Non-iodized salt
- Coffee or tea (without milk or dairy- or soy-based creamers)
- Egg whites
- Fresh or canned fruit
- Unsalted nuts and nut butters
- Homemade bread or breads made without salt, dairy, and eggs
- Popcorn with non-iodized salt
- Maple syrup
2. Cruciferous vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables and other types may stop your thyroid from using iodine properly. They may be beneficial for hyperthyroidism:
- Bamboo shoots
- Bok choy
- Brussels sprouts
- Collard greens
3. Vitamins and minerals
Several nutrients are essential for thyroid health and to balance thyroid hormone production.
Iron is important for many vital bodily functions, including thyroid health. This mineral is needed for blood cells to carry oxygen to every cell in your body. Low levels of iron are linked to hyperthyroidism. Get plenty of iron in your diet with foods such as:
- dried beans
- green leafy vegetables
- poultry, such as chicken and turkey
- red meat
- whole grains
Selenium-rich foods may help to balance thyroid hormone levels and protect your thyroid from disease. Selenium helps to prevent cell damage and keep your thyroid and other tissues healthy.
Good food sources of selenium include:
- Brazil nuts
- Chia seeds
- Meat, such as beef and lamb
- Oat bran
- Poultry, such as chicken and turkey
- Sunflower seeds
Zinc helps you use food for energy. This mineral also keeps your immune system and thyroid healthy. Food sources of zinc include:
- Cocoa powder
- Pumpkin seeds
Calcium and vitamin D
Hyperthyroidism causes weak and brittle bones. Bone mass may be restored with treatment. Vitamin D and calcium are necessary for building healthy bones.
Calcium-rich foods include:
- collard greens
- white beans
- calcium-fortified orange juice
- almond milk
- calcium-fortified cereals
Vitamin D is found in these low-iodine foods:
- Vitamin D-fortified orange juice
- Vitamin D-fortified cereals
- Beef liver
- Fatty fish
Fats that are from whole foods and largely unprocessed may help reduce inflammation. This helps to protect thyroid health and balance thyroid hormones. Nondairy fats are important in a low-iodine diet. These include:
- Flaxseed oil
- Olive oil
- Avocado oil
- Coconut oil
- Sunflower oil
- Safflower oil
- Unsalted nuts and seeds
Some spices and herbs have anti-inflammatory properties to help protect and balance thyroid function. Add flavor and a dose of antioxidants to your daily meals with:
- Green chilies
- Black pepper
What to avoid if you have hyperthyroidism?
If you have hyperthyroidism, you need to avoid high iodine supplements. And shift to a low-iodine diet, which means you should avoid:
- Iodized salt
- Dairy products
- High amounts of poultry or beef
- High amounts of grain products (such as bread, pasta, and pastries)
- Egg yolks
In addition, you should avoid soy products such as
- Soy milk
- Soy sauce
This is because of the fact that soy can interfere with thyroid function.
Additional iodine to avoid
In addition to avoiding the above foods, it’s important to avoid additional iodine.
Iodine can be found in herbal supplements, even if it’s not noted on the label. Remember that even if a supplement is available over the counter, it can still have a harmful effect on your body.