When the thyroid gland is over-productive, thyroid hormone levels skyrocket and cause a wide array of troublesome symptoms. Thyroid hormones include thyroxine (T4), triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). High thyroid level (hyperthyroidism) is often only one symptom of an underlying condition called Graves' Disease. According to the American Thyroid Association, 70 percent of patients with high thyroid levels are diagnosed with this condition. Other conditions that are related to high thyroid levels include toxic nodular goiter and thyroiditis. Common medications used to treat hyperthyroidism include anti-thyroid drugs, beta-blockers and radioactive iodine treatment. Surgery may be necessary in extreme cases.
High thyroid levels affect the metabolism. When too much thyroid hormone is produced, the metabolism speeds up, resulting in abnormal weight loss. Patients may notice that they are losing weight without any significant changes to their diet. Usually, the higher the levels of thyroid being produced, the more the weight loss. Increased calorie intake will help to slow weight loss.
Nervous System Effects
The high metabolism caused by abnormal thyroid levels may affect the nervous system. Many patients who have high thyroid levels may notice a slight increase in nervousness, irritability or anxiety, as well as insomnia and excessive perspiration. These symptoms may be minimal at first and increase as thyroid levels become higher.
Young women are most commonly affected by Graves' Disease, of which high thyroid levels are only one symptom. Women with high thyroid levels may notice a decrease in menstrual bleeding or an absence of menstrual cycles.
Doctors may examine patients for external signs of high thyroid levels. These include thin, brittle hair and thinning of the skin. Patients with Graves' Disease may develop a goiter, or swelling on the front of the neck, which is where the thyroid gland is located. Patients may also notice that their eyes appear enlarged or bulging.