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What Does Hyperthyroidism Feel Like?

Written on January 31, 2012 at 9:45 am , by

Kimberly, far left, first blamed her symptoms on stress. (Photo courtesy of Kimberly Dorris)

You now know the signs and symptoms of the different thyroid diseases, but how does a diagnosis affect your life? We asked a woman with the most common form of hyperthyroidism, Graves’ disease, to tell us more about her experience. Besides being a patient, 44-year-old Kimberly Dorris is the Executive Director of the Graves’ Disease and Thyroid Foundation.

Tell us about your diagnosis. What first tipped you off that something may be wrong?

I went in for a check-up after experiencing an occasionally rapid heart rate, insomnia and hand tremors. I would watch waves in my coffee cup because my hands were shaking so badly. Often, I’d notice excessive sweat, but I live in Arizona so I wrote that off on the heat!

My doctor then ran a TSH test and I was soon diagnosed with Graves’, which is an autoimmune disease. When you have Graves’, your immune system begins attacking your healthy tissue, including the thyroid gland, the cells and tissues behind your eyes and sometimes the skin.

How does Graves’ disease impact your daily life?

It’s really a constant struggle to keep my weight in check. While weight loss is a symptom for many patients with hyperthyroidism, others struggle with weight gain after beginning treatment. More research is needed to determine if this is because of the disease itself or the treatment, but it has affected my self esteem and energy. I try to focus on what I can control, like being as active as possible, rather than what I can’t (my weight fluctuations).

My overall stamina has decreased. So while I used to play in a tennis league, now I feel fortunate to be able to hit the ball around with friends. I play about twice a week and try to walk twice a week, kickbox once and strength train once.
What treatment has been most effective for you?

There are three options for treatment: anti-thyroid drugs, radioactive iodine or surgical removal of the thyroid. While there are some side effects to the anti-thyroid drugs, I chose that route because it’s the only option that doesn’t require thyroid hormone replacement for life.

What do you with more people knew about thyroid disorders?

Since the symptoms can overlap with several other issues, it can take many different doctors visits before someone thinks to give you a TSH test. After I was given the test but before I began taking the medication, I thoroughly researched the pros and cons of each form of treatment. From others that I’ve spoken with in the support group I started for those with Graves’ disease and their loved ones, patients are much more satisfied with the outcome when they form a team with their medical professionals.

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  • http://www.hypnofitmaui.com claudia micco

    It is nice to see this article in fitness Mag.
    I am a 25+ mind/body fitness instructor and I got knocked out (diagnosed) with Graves Disease about 18 months ago. What people don’t realize it that the symptoms come on very gradually.
    I had been losing weight and having terrible headaches for two years, I would get sick for what seemed like no reason at all. I had been to my doctor many times and she said it was just Migranes, and never checked the thyroid. About two months before I was finally diagnosed, I was teaching a private Yoga/Cycle class and in the warm up I had to excuse myself to the closet and vomit in a waste basket…I was horrified, and since I didn’t want my client to know, I just came back out and continued the class. After it was finally over, I could barely get to my car to get home and lay on the couch.
    It got worse from there 2 months later and 20lbs thinner, I was in meditation and my heart was pounding, I was shaking, after the class I went home and lay on the couch…I fell extremely ill. Three days of 103 degree fever, I thought it was the flu. Finally, I could make it to my new doctor. I got on the scale and I was 115 lbs, (my normal is 135) my resting HR was 125, they kept taking it to be sure the testing device was working. My new doctor gave my a bunch of tests and said, you are very sick…no flu, pneumonia and your thyroid and liver are going crazy. After a month of rest and medications, testing and so on, I started to fell a little better. I decided not to have the RAI, they urged it was the “only” was to cure me. I decided to go the natural route…be patient, honor my body, rest, meditate, eat and be positive. It took one year after I went off my meds for my thyroid and TSH to go back to normal. I had to change my lifestyle,Saying no to extra projects, lower stress, no more hard workouts, less cardio altogether and patience.