Hyperthyroidism, also known as overactive thyroid, is a health condition that is the result of too much of the thyroid hormone, thyroxine.
It is thought that women are 10 times more likely to have hyperthyroidism than men. According to the NHS, roughly one in 50 women in England have hyperthyroidism.
Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Excess fats in your stool
- Increased appetite
- Infrequent periods
- Loss of libido
- Muscle weakness
- Sensitivity to heat
Other physical signs that you have hyperthyroidism include:
- Goitre (Swelling on your neck)
- Red palms,/li>
- Loose nails
- Hair loss
- Facial twitching
There are a number of conditions that can cause the thyroid to produce too much thyroxin. However, the most common cause is Graves’ disease.
Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disease in which antibodies, made by the immune system to fight viruses and bacteria, mistakenly attack the thyroid, causing it to produce too much of the hormone thyroxine.
It is not known what causes Graves’ disease, although it is thought to be due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Risk factors for Graves’ disease include:
- Family history
- Gender: women are much more likely to develop Graves’ disease than men
- Physical or emotional stress
The formation of lumps on the thyroid may also be responsible for hyperthyroidism. It is not understood why these non-cancerous nodes develop on the thyroid, but they are estimated to account for one in 20 cases of hyperthyroidism. Thyroid nodules may be made of abnormal thyroid tissue which causes the overproduction of thyroxine.
Although not common, hyperthyroidism can occur if you have thyroid cancer that originated in your thyroid follicles. This happens when the tumour on your thyroid starts to produce thyroxine.
Although western medicine doesn’t recommend any dietary changes, an Ayurvedic approach to dieting for hyperthyroidism may be followed. It includes consuming milk, pure ghee and other dairy products, eating fresh fruits like bananas and melons, and dried fruits such as dates and walnuts.
Large quantities of iodine should be avoided if you have been diagnosed with autoimmune hyperthyroidism, as it can exacerbate your condition. However, iodine should not have a detrimental effect unless a rather high amount has been consumed. It is only found in concentrated iodine supplements, seaweed and kelp.