Hyperthyroidism means any medical condition in which the body starts producing thyroid hormones in excess or abnormal quantities, due to an overactive thyroid gland. Hyperthyroidism is also referred to as thyrotoxicosis. High thyroid hormones in the blood stream are produced regardless of their source in this condition.
The thyroid hormone plays a huge role in many normal bodily functions, especially the metabolism. If the thyroid levels are elevated then every function in the body will speed up. It will be not shocking to find out that most common symptoms of hyperthyroidism are nervousness, excessive weight loss, fine brittle hair, insomnia or other sleeping disorders, irritability, hand tremors, increase in perspiration, anxiety and weakness on your leg and arm muscles.
One of the most common side effects of hyperthyroidism is increased bowel movement, which can cause weight loss rapidly. Although a patient suffering from hyperthyroidism may experience frequent bowel movement, diarrhea is not common. In women, the menstrual flow can decrease and patients can lose weight despite eating a healthy diet. As hyperthyroidism increases the energy levels in the body, people with this condition have a lot of energy in initial stages. However, as the condition continues to persist without being treated, the body will start breaking down and the patient will experience tiredness and fatigue all the time.
The onset of hyperthyroidism is gradual and slow but in some younger patients, it can also be quite rapid. For some time, the symptoms of hyperthyroidism can be mistaken for nervousness or increased stress. If you were trying to lose weight for a while, you will be pleased with your results. Grave’s disease is the most common type of hyperthyroidism, in which the eyes tend to look larger due to elevated upper lids. In grave’s disease, one or both eyes can experience bulging and swelling on the side of the neck due to an enlarged thyroid gland, also known as the goiter.
In seventy percent of the cases, hyperthyroidism is caused by overproduction of the thyroid hormone by the thyroid gland, which is also known as the Grave’s disease. Grave’s disease is usually caused by the antibodies in blood, which elevate thyroids and cause them to grow in size and secrete large quantities of thyroid hormone.
This condition is most common in women and can be hereditary. However, there is little information about which individuals are at a greater risk of being affected by it. There is also another type of hyperthyroidism known as toxic nodular, multinodular goiter, which is characterized by lumps, or nodules in the thyroid gland that increase in size. Their elevated activity and increased thyroid production into the blood stream is greater than normal.
Patients can also show symptoms of hyperthyroidism if they are suffering from thyroiditis, which is a viral infection or an immune system disorder that causes the thyroid gland to leak causing the thyroid hormone to secrete increased amounts of thyroid hormones. If thyroid hormone is consumed in large quantities in tablet form, a person can exhibit similar symptoms. The last two conditions are also called thyrotoxicosis, as the thyroid is not over active in both cases.
Diagnosis and Treatment
If your doctor suspects that you have hyperthyroidism, diagnosing it is not complicated at all. An enlarged thyroid gland can be detected by a physical examination, which is usually paired with an elevated pulse. The doctor will look for smooth, moist skin, abnormal eyes, a rapid pulse and tremors in your hands especially your fingertips. If you have exceptionally fast reflexes and large abnormal eyes, then it is possible that you have Grave’s disease.
By a simple laboratory test, a doctor can diagnose the quantities of thyroid hormones in your blood, such as thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3)—and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). A high level of thyroids will show a low level of TSH. If your blood tests conclude that you have a thyroid condition, then your doctor will aim to take images of your thyroids, also known as a thyroid scan. This scan will find out if you have hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid gland). A thyroid uptake test can also be done simultaneously to find the thyroid’s ability to absorb iodine.
For treating hyperthyroidism, each patient has to be treated differently. The treatment of hyperthyroidism can be influenced by age, the severity and type of hyperthyroidism, other medical conditions that you were diagnosed with prior to hyperthyroidism and your preference. An endocrinologist or a doctor who is experienced in the treatment of hyperthyroid patients can prescribe you with Antithyroid drugs like methimazole or in rare instances propylthiouracil (PTU). Another process, which treats hyperthyroidism, is to eliminate the thyroid producing cells. As they require iodine to a make thyroid hormone, radioactive hormones can be ingested to eliminate them.