A correctly functioning thyroid makes a perfectly balanced ratio of the hormones it produces. Our metabolism is managed by these hormones, influencing our body temperature, how many calories we burn and our body weight. If there are too many hormones in your system, every cell in your body increases the rate at which it functions. This results in an overactive thyroid, or hyperthyroidism.
Just like an underactive thyroid, or hypothyroidism, there are many overactive thyroid symptoms in women; being too warm all the time, insomnia, chest pains, increased appetite, nervousness, heart palpitations, weight loss, hair loss and light or absent periods are the most common. These symptoms can be somewhat akin to those of other conditions; including mania-type behavioral disorders and anxiety. Rather than assuming your symptoms are reflective of some kind of mood disorder, thyroid function should always be checked by a doctor when a woman experiences symptoms of panic attacks, anxiety or hyperactivity.
The symptoms of an overactive thyroid can become gradually worse over time. Many women have hyperthyroidism for many months, or even years, but don’t see these symptoms until they become severe. Women of a certain age may become depressed or lose weight without having any other symptoms associated with hyperthyroidism.
Graves’ disease is one of the more common causes of an overactive thyroid. This autoimmune disorder usually attacks women in their 30’s and 40’s. When Graves’ disease is present, the body sends out antibodies that enlarge and irritate the thyroid gland. This may also cause a thickening of skin of the lower legs and swelling of the eyes, which are usually resolved once the thyroid is correctly functioning again.
A less common cause of an overactive thyroid is a “hot” nodule that grows inside the thyroid. This is sometimes referred to as toxic nodular goiter and can promote production of extra thyroid hormones, causing hyperthyroidism.
Women who take too much medication that contains triiodothyronine (T3) is also fairly common. Because of this, women taking thyroid drug medication need to be closely monitored. On occasion, a virus can enlarge the thyroid gland and incite a temporary case of an overactive thyroid. This episode is referred to as thyroiditis, and can be resolved without drastic medication.
Treating an overactive thyroid consists of a doctor’s visit and testing. Most medical doctors will prescribe drug medication to resolve the thyroid issue and your symptoms, however side effects are possible and can be quite problematic. Alternatively, natural herbal supplements are commonly used to promote and maintain a healthy thyroid. Check out our natural thyroid treatment page for all-natural, safe and effective solutions to an overactive thyroid.