Thyroid cancer: Know the symptoms
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An overactive thyroid gland in the neck produces too many hormones that can lead to irritability and a feeling of anxiety, including heart palpitations. The condition can lead to unintentional weight loss, diarrhoea, and muscle weakness. Doctor Kumaran added that an overactive thyroid can also lead to insomnia, heat intolerance, excessive sweating, and itching of the skin.
Other possible symptoms of an underactive thyroid:
- Raised appetite
- Feeling thirsty and passing lots of urine.
“There can be many consequences of untreated hyperthyroidism,” cautioned Doctor Kumaran.
“The thyroid gland influences every single system of the body.”
Left untreated, hyperthyroidism can lead to heart complications, such as:
- Tachycardia (a fast heartbeat)
- Atrial fibrillation
- Heart failure.
READ MORE: The ‘common’ disorder that could lead to severe muscle pain and fatigue – hypothyroidism
“You are also likely to develop skin changes called ‘thyroid dermopathy’, and changes to the nails called clubbing,” said Doctor Kumaran.
“You can have changes to the appearance of the eyes where there is retraction of the eyelids, a delay in moving the eyelid down and proptosis.”
Doctor Kumaran explained proptosis is “where the eye protrudes from the socket”.
There have been cases where people develop alopecia (hair loss) or vitiligo (where the skin loses its pigment cells, leading to discoloured patches of skin).
“As a general guide it is recommended to avoid: excess salt, refined sugars, processed foods, red meats, saturated fats, and alcohol,” said Doctor Kumaran.
What causes an overactive thyroid?
The NHS notes three main ways the condition develops, such as Graves’ disease, nodules on the thyroid and medication.
Three in four people who have an overactive thyroid are likely to have Graves’ disease.
Graves’ disease is an autoimmune condition where the immune system mistakenly attacks and damages the thyroid.
Seen to run in families, and more likely to be seen in smokers, Graves’ disease is one way an overactive thyroid can develop.
Less commonly, nodules might develop on the thyroid gland, which is typically seen in people over the age of 60.
Then there’s the increase in iodine when taking certain medications; one example could be medication to control an irregular heartbeat.
“An overactive thyroid that’s caused by a medicine will usually improve once you stop taking that medicine,” the NHS notes.
“Although it may take several months for your thyroid hormone levels to return to normal.”
How to treat an overactive thyroid
Medicine, radioactive iodine treatment, and surgery all help to manage an overactive thyroid.
The most commonly prescribed type of medication is known as thionamides.
Doctor Nirusa Kumaran works on behalf of Elemental Health Clinic.
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