February 23, 2019


Hyperdrive? Nope, we’re not talking science fiction here, just regular science.  A thyroid in hyperdrive is no treat. When your thyroid is overactive it speeds up all your body functions. It’s called hyperthyroidism, and it’s a sign that something in your body is seriously out of balance. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism can include:

  • Unexpected weight loss
  • Fast heartbeat, called tachycardia (more than 100 beats per minute)
  • Irregular heartbeat, called arrhythmia
  • Pounding heart, called palpitations
  • Increase in appetite
  • Irritability, anxiety, nervousness
  • Tremor (usually in your fingers or hands)
  • Sweating
  • Menstrual changes
  • Sensitivity to heat
  • Frequent bowel movements
  • Swelling at the base of your neck, called a goiter
  • Fatigue, muscle weakness
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Thinning skin
  • Changes in your hair (finer, brittle)

So what’s going on in there?

Your thyroid helps maintain balance in your personal universe. As you can probably guess from the long list of possible symptoms, your thyroid has a huge impact on your body systems. In fact, the hormones produced by your thyroid (T3 and T4) impact every cell in your body and regulate every aspect of your metabolism. They influence your body temp, heart rate, protein production, the rate at which you use carbs and fat, and also help maintain calcium levels in your blood (calcitonin).

When your thyroid is making too much T3 and/or T4, you can develop some dangerous health problems:

Heart problems – Hyperthyroidism can cause rhythm disorders like an overly fast heartbeat (tachycardia) and atrial fibrillation, a type of irregular heart beat that puts you at risk of blood clots and stroke. It can also lead to congestive heart failure (your heart can’t pump enough blood to meet your body’s needs), high blood pressure, even cardiac arrest (when your heart stops pumping suddenly).

Osteoporosis – It also thins your bones by pulling calcium and phosphate out of them and causes you to excrete too much calcium and phosphorous (via urine and stool). This makes your bones brittle and puts you at risk for fractures.

Thyroid storm (a.k.a. thyrotoxic crisis) –  This is a rare, but life-threatening, condition where your symptoms spike abruptly to dangerous levels. Symptoms include a racing heart (over 140 beats per minute), irregular heartbeat, high fever, shaking, agitation, confusion, diarrhea, and even unconsciousness. Make no mistake; thyroid storm is an emergency and requires immediate treatment.

What can I do if I have symptoms of hyperthyroidism?

If you have these symptoms you need to see your doctor for a diagnosis.  Sometimes with mild symptoms, some changes to your diet may offer some relief.  The thyroid’s overactivity can also be controlled with medications or more invasive measures, but it’s very important to be assessed by a physician. 

A healthy diet can help support all your systems, but when dietary change is recommended by your physician for mild symptoms of hyperthyroidism you can try the following:

  • Berries/antioxidants for immune support (hyperthyroidism is most often caused by an autoimmune disorder)
  • Cruciferous vegetables help decrease the amount of thyroid hormone you produce (broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage)
  • Vitamin D and Omega-3 fatty acids help prevent bone loss
  • Protein, to help maintain your weight
  • Avoid iodine, which can cause, or worsen, hyperthyroidism. Avoid iodine-rich foods like seaweed (kelp), seafood, dairy products, eggs, multivitamins, table salt, and cough syrup can contain iodine.

While a healthy, thyroid-supportive diet is a good step, don’t leave diagnosis or treatment to chance or guesswork. Thyroid issues can escalate to life-threatening if left untreated. Hyperthyroidism needs to be diagnosed and treated by a doctor. Together, you can determine the best course of treatment for you.

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