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What is Hyperthyroidism? Causes and Treatment

By Max. D Gray. Updated: May 3, 2017
What is Hyperthyroidism? Causes and Treatment

Hyperthyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid hormones increase excessively. This affects the metabolism and presents a series of symptoms and consequences that should be treated by a doctor. It is important to know all the information about this disease to be able to detect and treat it in time. In this oneHOWTO article, we will explain what hyperthyroidism is. As well as listing the symptoms, the diagnosis and the recommended treatment.

You may also be interested in: What to Eat if I Have Hyperthyroidism

What is the thyroid?

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in the lower part of the front of the neck. Glands are organs located in different parts of the body. The glands make and release hormones - substances that help the body functions and growth. The thyroid gland helps regulate body temperature, control heart rate and metabolism. This being the process that converts the food we eat into energy.

What is Hyperthyroidism? Causes and Treatment - What is the thyroid?

What is hyperthyroidism?

Hyperthyroidism is the clinical condition resulting from an overactive thyroid gland. This means that the thyroid produces and releases more hormones than your body needs. Thyroid hormones are active in all tissues of the body, increasing your metabolism, so the manifestations are diverse. Here we will discuss some of the classic manifestations, knowing that the diagnosis is made by laboratory tests.

What are the symptoms of hyperthyroidism?

Because the thyroid is not functioning properly, your body can experience a range of effects from this condition. Some of the most common symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:

  • Behavioral signs such as irritability, nervousness, restlessness, insomnia, verbiage (talking too much) and decreased ability to concentrate.
  • On a neuromuscular level. Distal tremor, hyperreflexia, tiredness, weakness, muscle fatigue and decreased muscle mass.
  • Frequent presence or intolerance to heat, hot and clammy skin, excessive sweating.
  • In gynecology, women may have decreased amount of blood when menstruating. They can also lose their menstrual cycle, develop infertility and suffer miscarriages.
  • On a digestive level. Increased appetite, weight loss, increased frequency of bowel movements (or diarrhea) and increased frequency of urination.
  • Sufferers show thin skin, hair loss, brittle nails, deformation of the fingers. They may also have bulging eyes, which are eyes that slightly bulge out of the eye socket.
  • Less frequently they may include: shortness of breath, itching, increased water intake, decreased libido, palpitations, tachycardia and palmar erythema.
  • Laboratory non-specific hypercalcemia, anaemia and elevation of alkaline phosphatase can be found.

What are the causes of hyperthyroidism

There are three main causes of hyperthyroidism in the human body.

Graves' Disease

This is a disorder in which the immune system attacks the thyroid, causing overproduction of the thyroid hormone. Graves' disease is an inherited disease (which affects several family members) and is more frequently found in women than in men. Graves' disease is the most common form of hyperthyroidism and represents 85% of cases. Patients with Graves' disease have some specific characteristics. Such as the presence of diffused goiter (swollen gland), ophthalmopathy and pretibial myxedema.

Thyroid Nodules

A thyroid nodule is a lump or growth of cells (which can be cancerous or non-cancerous) in the thyroid gland. It can cause more hormones to be created than your body needs.

Thyroiditis

This is a general term that refers to inflammation (swelling) of the thyroid caused by an infection or a problem with the immune system. This causes the thyroid gland to release hormones, resulting in more than your body needs. This condition may occur after the birth of a baby (postpartum thyroiditis). It can also be caused by taking the medications interferon and amiodarone.

How to diagnose hyperthyroidism

Your doctor will do a physical exam and take a blood sample to measure your hormone levels. When you have hyperthyroidism, the levels of thyroid hormones T3 and T4 are above normal. And, the thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) is lower than normal.

Your doctor may also want to perform a thyroid scan, an image of the thyroid to check its shape and see if there are any nodules.

How is hyperthyroidism treated

To treat hyperthyroidism you should know that there is different medication and methods. Everything will depend on what the doctor will advise, as it will depend on your particular case. The most common way to treat it is with:

  • Anti-thyroid drugs. Methimazole and propylthiouracil are drugs that block the ability to produce thyroid hormones. They offer a quick way of controlling the thyroid.
  • Radioactive iodine. Radioactive iodine is takenorally and is absorbed by the overactive thyroid cells. Iodine damages cells and causes the thyroid to shrink and levels of thyroid hormone to fall. This usually leads to permanent destruction of the thyroid, and cures hyperthyroidism. Most patients who receive this treatment must take thyroid hormone medicine for the rest of their lives. This is to maintain normal levels of the hormone.
  • Surgery: The doctor may remove the thyroid gland with surgery. This often causes hypothyroidism (under active thyroid). Patients then have to take supplements to maintain normal thyroid hormone levels.
  • Beta blockers: These drugs block the action of thyroid hormones in the body. They do not change the amount of hormones in the blood. However, they can help control rapid heartbeat, nervousness and tremors caused by hyperthyroidism.

If you suspect you have hyperthyroidism based on the symptoms described above, please consult your doctor. They will arrange the appropriate tests.

This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to What is Hyperthyroidism? Causes and Treatment, we recommend you visit our Family health category.

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