What is Hyperthyroidism?

Hyperthyroidism is the condition where the thyroid is working overtime. It secretes too much thyroid hormone in the body. Too much hormone can affect your metabolism among other functions.

The thyroid is found in your throat. It is right below the Adam’s apple (in men). This double-lobed gland wraps around the trachea (windpipe). There are two thyroid hormones that are secreted by the thyroid gland: T3 and T4. T4 is secreted most but much of it converts to T3 in the body.

Here is how the process works. The thyroid is regulated by the pituitary gland which in turn is regulated by the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus releases TRH (thyrotropin releasing hormone). The pituitary senses this and in turn releases TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone). It is this hormone that stimulates the secreting of T3 and T4 into the bloodstream. The thyroid uses iodine from the blood to produce these hormones.

With hyperthyroidism, there is a glitch in this feedback system. Too much hormone is being released. This condition can manifest itself in the body as increased sweating, weight loss, increased heartbeat, problems sleeping and tremors. If you notice any of these conditions, visit your doctor to get tested.

The causes of hyperthyroidism are varied. One cause is thyroiditis. This refers to an inflammation of the thyroid gland. An infection can lead to this condition and excrete excess hormone into the body as a result.

Grave's disease is another potential cause of hyperthyroidism. The body loses its ability to regulate the thyroid hormone and it secretes at will. This condition is hereditary but may be triggered by certain habits: smoking, radiation, infection, medication and even stress - to name a few.

Ingesting too much iodine can trigger hyperthyroidism. The thyroid uses that iodine to create the hormones. If you are taking supplements or eating food with a high concentration of iodine, that may be how you are exposed. This is one reason why it is not advised to take supplements without a doctor’s approval.

Another condition is hyper functioning nodules in the thyroid. These are lumps that form in the thyroid with the ability to secrete hormone. They are not regulated by the pituitary and therefore create too much.

The signs that you experience may be manageable to you but there are potential complications if this condition is not treated. A thyrotoxic crisis is possible. This is where your condition advances to the point where you can develop a really rapid heartbeat, agitation and fever. Damage may not only be done to the thyroid but other organs of the body.

If you believe that your thyroid may not be functioning properly, visit a physician. They can run tests to see if you are experiencing hyperthyroidism and suggest treatment options.