What is Hyperthyroidism?
The thyroid is a small gland located in the lower part of your neck, responsible for the creation of some important hormones: triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4), which influence on virtually every cell in your body. Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormones, which considerably accelerates your body metabolism and might cause serious consequences to your health.
Hyperthyroidism Signs and Symptoms
Signs and symptoms related to hyperthyroidism are very unspecific. Usually, a wide-open list of other health problems can share these symptoms. Also, the symptoms can vary depending on every person and will be determined by the increased hormone levels.
Some of the signs and symptoms include:
- Unintentional and unexplained weight loss.
- Increased heart rate. Palpitations.
- Anxiety and irritability. Restless.
- Fine tremor in the hands.
- Irregular menstrual cycles.
- Easily sweating.
- Muscle fatigue.
- Goiter, which is the enlargement of the thyroid.
- Bulging eyes, also known as Grave’s Ophthalmopathy.
Hyperthyroidism occurs when an underlying condition affects the thyroid and increase the production of thyroid hormones. There are multiple causes related to this condition and some of them include:
- Graves’ disease. This is the most common cause related to hyperthyroidism and involves the production of some antibodies that stimulates the thyroid to produce abnormally high amounts of thyroid hormones.
- Hyperfunctioning thyroid nodules. In which some benign tumors (nodules) are formed into the thyroid gland and produces additional thyroid hormones.
- Here, some external factors make your thyroid gland become inflamed, causing the uncontrolled release of the thyroid hormones that are normally stored in the gland tissue.
The diagnosis of hyperthyroidism is based on your symptoms and some lab tests. Your endocrinologist will perform a proper physical exam and a blood test that measures the levels of TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) the hormone produced in your brain that stimulated the thyroid gland, and the thyroid hormones (T3 and T4). A high level of T4 or T3 and a low level of TSH indicate an underactive thyroid.
Additionally, in order to determine the underlying cause of your condition, your endocrinologist may perform the following tests:
- Thyroid ultrasound.
- Thyroid Scan.
- Radioiodine uptake test.
There are multiple options to treat hyperthyroidism and most of the time, the treatment is successful. Selecting the best treatment for you depends on your age, medical condition, the severity of your symptoms and the underlying cause of your condition. Some of the options include:
- Anti-thyroid drugs. These drugs block the excessive thyroid hormone production.
- Beta-blockers. Usually, these drugs are used to treat high blood pressure, but they can also ease the symptoms of hyperthyroidism, like tremor, rapid heart rate, and anxiety.
- Radioactive iodine. This treatment option causes your thyroid gland to shrink, because of its radioactive effects, which gradually decrease the hormone levels.
In case the above treatments are not working or if you can’t tolerate them, your endocrinologist may suggest a thyroidectomy, a procedure that involves the total or partial removal of your thyroid. This will solve hyperthyroidism but will cause the opposite state, hypothyroidism, due to the absences of the thyroid. This is why total thyroidectomy involves a lifelong supplementary treatment.