What Are The Thyroid Glands?

The thyroid is the butterfly shaped gland located at the base of the neck, just below the Adam’s apple. The gland produces hormones that affect the metabolism. The thyroid is extremely important, maintaining the body’s heart, temperature, protein production, and usage of fats and carbohydrates. Problems with one’s thyroid can result in thyroid disease, which is an umbrella term for any complication caused by the thyroid.

Here, we go over one of the most common thyroid problems: Overactive thyroids.

Symptoms

Hyperthyroidism, or overactive thyroid, is caused by the thyroid overproducing hormones. This causes the metabolism to work faster than it’s meant to. According to Mayo Clinic, symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:

  • Sudden weight loss, even when your appetite and the amount and type of food you eat remain the same or even increase
  • Rapid heartbeat (tachycardia) — commonly more than 100 beats a minute — irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) or pounding of your heart (palpitations)
  • Increased appetite
  • Nervousness, anxiety and irritability
  • Tremor — usually a fine trembling in your hands and fingers
  • Sweating
  • Changes in menstrual patterns
  • Increased sensitivity to heat
  • Changes in bowel patterns, especially more frequent bowel movements
  • 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

(Source: Mayo Clinic)

Symptoms can vary depending on the person. Older adults tend to experience less severe symptoms, sometimes showing little to no symptoms. Symptoms such as fatigue, increased heart rate, and higher body temperature can easily be mistaken for other health issues.

Overactive thyroids can be caused by preexisting conditions, including graves’ disease, toxic adenoma, Plummer disease (toxic multinodular goiter) and thyroiditis(x). The disease is more common in women and in people with a family history of thyroid disease.

Hyperthyroidism can only be diagnosed and treated by a doctor. If you start experiencing any symptoms, consult with your doctor immediately. If untreated, overactive thyroid can result in heart disease, osteoporosis, eye problems, red, swollen skin and thyrotoxic crisis.