Hyperthyroidism is the medical term used for an overactive thyroid. This means that an individual is producing plenty of amounts of the thyroid hormones, like T4 and T3. These hormones help in the regulation of your metabolism. It may seem like a good thing to have it in excess, but as the old saying goes. “Too much of anything is bad”.
Having a high level of these thyroid hormones can lead you to experience some symptoms caused by too speedy metabolism.
What are the symptoms of hyperthyroidism?
Below are some possible signs that you have increased thyroid hormones.
- A huge decrease in weight. Even when you are eating a lot of food, you may still end up losing weight.
- Quick pulse or heartbeat. A person’s normal heartbeat is only around 60-100 beats per minute. Some people can experience an irregular heartbeat or palpitations.
- It is easy to get anxious, nervous, and irritable.
- Hand trembling is also noticed by some individuals.
- Intense sweating and heat sensitivity are often experienced.
- There are some women who suffer from changes in their menstrual patterns.
- Not only are there changes in menstruation, expect changes in bowel patterns, as well.
- Muscle weakness and the feeling of always being tired is there.
- Insomnia can also be a struggle.
- Goiter or the swelling of the base of the neck is due to the enlargement of thyroid gland.
Old people usually do not manifest any symptoms or signs of hyperthyroidism. Not everyone experiences all of the symptoms of hyperthyroidism. So, you do not have to tick all the boxes. Now, these symptoms can be confused with other medical condition. They are too common, so the doctors find it hard to diagnose.
So, how can one make sure that the signs you are experiencing are really due to hyperthyroidism?
Below are some of the most trusted ways to ensure that your condition is really hyperthyroidism. Most physicians will recommend one or the following:
1. Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) is produced by the pituitary gland.
When TSH levels are low, it does not necessarily mean you have hyperthyroidism. However, further tests need to be run. The thyroid hormones are increased. It does not have to be all of the hormones. Although, most cases, people with the condition have all of the thyroid hormones on high. But, there are times that only one or two are high.
2. One other method is to do the Iodine thyroid scan.
This is a quick way will show if the cause is a single nodule or the whole gland is affected. The iodine is taken up by the gland. The cells in the thyroid are commonly absorbed by iodine in the bloodstream. Hyperthyroid patients will take up more iodine than someone with a normal thyroid.
Ultrasound is also one of the most efficient ways to measure the size of the thyroid glands. It also helps detect the masses it has and identify if it is cystic or not.
These are some ways of diagnosing hyperthyroidism. There are plenty of others, but these three gets the job done.
What are the causes of hyperthyroidism?
There are many conditions that may cause hyperthyroidism. Conditions like toxic adenoma, Graves’ disease, Plummer’s disease, and thyroiditis can trigger overproduction of the thyroid hormones.
To give you an idea of how this happens, here is an illustration. The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that can be found at the base of the neck. It is just about an ounce, but for its size, it has a significant impact on a person’s overall health.
Thyroxine and triiodothyronine can have an effect on every cell of your body. They are responsible for the maintenance of how the body uses fats and carbs, control of the temperature, heart rate, and protein production. One other reason is that these cells also provide the body with calcitonin. This is responsible for regulating calcium found in the blood.
Another reason why these cells are crucial is that the thyroid also produces calcitonin, a hormone that helps the regulation of calcium found in the blood.
Why can one have too much thyroxine?
The thyroid usually produces an adequate amount of hormones. But, there are plenty of other reasons why an imbalance can occur. Aside from Grave’s disease, hyperfunction can occur due to toxic adenoma, Plummer’s disease, and toxic multinodular goiter.
Thyroiditis happens when the thyroid gland is inflamed for no reason. Thyroid hormones are then excreted to the bloodstream. There is one particular type called subacute granulomatous thyroiditis can cause pain in the gland. Other types usually happen after pregnancy for women. One autoimmune disease called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is also available. It is when the antibodies attack your thyroid in error.
How can you start treating hyperthyroidism?
Since there are many causes of hyperactive thyroid, the treatment options are different. The approach will depend upon the condition. Other factors that the doctor will look at is your age, your overall health, and the severity of the symptoms.
One option is by taking radioactive iodine. You just popped it into your mouth and this will shrink down the size of your thyroid. In three to six months, you will see it work. Unfortunately, there is a downside. You may develop hypothyroidism if you are not too careful. If not, you might have to take supplements to replace your thyroid hormones.
This is possibly one of the oldest medications for this condition. It has been prescribed for more than 60 years. Normally, it is always considered safe. The positive results can be seen in more than 70 percent of adult patients dealing with the condition.
The antithyroid drugs can help in blocking the overproduction of thyroid hormones. Medications like propylthiouracil and methimazole have multiple positive benefits. The medications can alleviate the negative effects within three months. Unfortunately, you will need to stay on the medication of up to 18 months. This is to ensure that you will not have to encounter any relapse. Of the two, methimazole has more minor side effects.
If none of this works, your last resort is thyroidectomy. The surgery lasts up to four hours and is generally safe when done by a reputable physician.