Hyperthyroidism: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment

Overview

Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) is a condition that the thyroid gland is so active that it produces excessive thyroid hormone. It is different from thyrotoxicosis, which refers to a condition that the body has excessive thyroid hormone for no matter what reason, including hyperthyroidism. The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped endocrine gland which is located in the lower front of the neck. The thyroid gland can make thyroid hormones which can help the body use energy, stay warm and keep the brain, heart, muscles, and other organs working as usual.

Hyperthyroidism can be serious if you ignore it, but most people respond well after they are treated. According to the statistics, about 1.2% of people have hyperthyroidism in America. Hyperthyroidism is most common in women, people who are over 60 years old, and people with other thyroid diseases. Women are 2–10 times more likely than men to get hyperthyroidism.

Causes & Risk Factors

The causes of hyperthyroidism include:

  • Graves’ disease (the most common cause, accounting for over 70%)
  • Toxic nodular or multinodular goiter
  • Thyroiditis
  • Taking too much thyroid hormone

Some factors may increase the risk of developing hyperthyroidism, including:

  • Being a woman
  • Having an older age
  • Have family history, especially of Graves’ disease
  • Have other thyroid diseases
  • Being pregnant within the past 6 months
  • Eating a large amount of food that contains iodine (such as kelp) or use medicines that contain iodine (such as amiodarone).
  • Having a medical history of some chronic diseases, such as type 1 diabetes, pernicious anemia and primary adrenal insufficiency.

Symptoms

Hyperthyroidism has many symptoms, including:

  • Weight loss
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Fatigue or muscle weakness
  • Rapid and irregular heartbeat
  • Increased appetite
  • Nervousness, anxiety, and irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Frequent bowel movements or diarrhea
  • Heat intolerance
  • Hand tremors
  • Goiter
  • Changes in menstrual cycles
  • Skin thinning
  • Brittle hair

If your hyperthyroidism is caused by Graves’ disease, you may have some symptoms of Graves’ disease, including:

  • Bulging eyes (Graves’ ophthalmopathy)
  • The shins and upper feet become thick and red (Graves’ dermopathy)

Diagnosis

To diagnose hyperthyroidism, your doctor will ask your medical history and family history, check your symptoms and your neck. Then you may need some tests, including:

Treatment

Depending on your age, health condition, the cause and the severity of hyperthyroidism, your doctor will have four treatment options, including anti-thyroid drugs, radioiodine therapy, beta blockers and surgery.

Anti-thyroid drugs

This is the simplest way to treat hyperthyroidism. These drugs can make the thyroid gland produce less thyroid hormone. Two drugs can be used: methimazole (Tapazole®) or propylthiouracil (PTU). Anti-thyroid drugs are not used to treat hyperthyroidism caused by thyroiditis.

Radioiodine therapy

Radioiodine therapy is a common and effective treatment for hyperthyroidism. This therapy uses oral radioiodine to destroy the overactive thyroid cells but does not affect other body tissues. Almost everyone who receive radioactive iodine treatment later develops hypothyroidism, which causes you to have to take thyroid hormone drugs for life to maintain the normal thyroid hormone that your body needs.

Beta blockers

These medications cannot inhibit the production of thyroid hormones, but they can block them from affecting the body. They can relieve some symptoms, such as anxiety, faster heart rate, excessive perspiration, and muscle weakness. Beta blockers include:

Surgery

The hyperthyroidism can be permanently cured by surgery to remove all or most of the thyroid gland (thyroidectomy or subtotal thyroidectomy). But this can cause hypothyroidism, which is the same as radioiodine therapy, you have to take thyroid hormone for life.

Please consult your doctors for your treatment.


Keywords: hyperthyroidism; thyroid gland; Graves’ disease.

Related Posts:

Hyperthyroidism: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment

Is Thyroid Gland to Blame for Weight Gain?

Graves’ Disease: Symptoms, Treatment

Hypothyroidism VS. Hyperthyroidism

Thyroid Nodules: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment

Radioactive Iodine Uptake(RAIU) Test: Reference Range

* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.