You are The Overachiever
“why don’t you just relax a little?” Is this a familiar question? Oh, if they only knew. You sleep four hours a night. You eat whatever you want but always feel like you’re too thin. Sitting through a movie with your family is impossible. Your house is spotless, not because you’re a neat freak but because there’s nothing else to do at 3 AM when the rest of the house is sleeping. Your performance at work goes above and beyond. Some may view hyperthyroidism as a gift but only those with it know what a curse it can be.
The Skinny on Hyperthyroidism
The flip side of the coin from hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism comes with its own unique set of complicated symptoms. Unlike its sluggish counterpart, hyperthyroidism is the result of an overactive thyroid gland. This means it produces too much T 4 and T 3 , both hormones that help regulate all of your body’s processes. While hyperthyroidism can be caused by a number of issues, the most common is a condition called Graves’ disease.
Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disorder, meaning that your body erroneously produces an antibody known as TSI (thyroid-stimulating immunoglobulin) which attacks the thyroid and, as a result, causes it to create and release too much thyroid hormone. Graves’ disease is typically genetic and is more prominently diagnosed in women than men.
Another cause of hyperthyroidism is the presence of a multinodular or toxic goiter in the thyroid gland. A goiter is a collection of lumps or nodules growing in the thyroid gland that stimulate it to produce excessive quantities of thyroid hormones. Goiters can grow quite large and cause other issues, such as airway restriction or difficulty swallowing.
Alternative Treatments for Hyperthyroidism
A common treatment for hyperthyroidism is radioactive iodine treatment. Because the thyroid absorbs iodine, this therapy targets only the cells of the thyroid. When concentrations have reached a high enough level the thyroid cells are damaged (much like the process of standard radiation therapy), rendering them unable to overproduce hormones. In cases where medications or radioactive iodine are not desirable treatments, surgical removal of the thyroid may be considered. Sometimes only a portion of the thyroid will be removed; in other instances, the entire gland is taken out and then you are supplemented with thyroid hormone medications.
Sandra Day O'Conner