Hyperthyroidism: Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Hyperthyroidism: Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment | HealthSoul

What is Hyperthyroidism?

Hyperthyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid becomes overactive. It produces too much thyroxine and can cause the body’s metabolism to burn fat too quickly. Sweating, rapid weight loss, rapid heartbeat, irritability, and anxiety characterize the condition. Once diagnosed, patients can choose from several treatment options.

Causes of Hyperthyroidism

A number of factors can cause hyperthyroidism. Determining the cause can lead to faster and better treatment and, ultimately, a better recovery. The most common causes of hyperthyroidism include:

  • Grave’s Disease– Grave’s disease is an autoimmune disorder where the body releases antibodies that attack the thyroid and make it release too much thyroxine. It is the most common cause of the disorder.
  • Plummer’s Disease– The cause of Plummer’s disease is unknown, but it usually affects the elderly. It causes the thyroid to become enlarged and release excess hormones.
  • Toxic Adenoma– This is caused by a nodule growing on the thyroid gland. It causes the thyroid to become enlarged and release more hormones than necessary.
  • Thyroiditis– This occurs when the thyroid becomes inflamed and produces excessive amounts of hormones.

Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism

The symptoms of hyperthyroidism are usually obvious, but they may not all appear at the same time. Many people are happy to lose weight at first but begin to worry when they realize they have lost too much weight in a short period of time. The most common symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:

  • Sudden weight loss
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Anxiety
  • Increased appetite
  • Hand tremors
  • Sensitivity to temperature
  • Excessive sweating
  • Menstruation problems in women
  • Digestive issues
  • Goiter 
  • Muscle weakness
  • Sleep pattern changes
  • Thinning hair
  • Irritability

Diagnosis of Hyperthyroidism

There are several ways hyperthyroidism can be diagnosed. Doctors will usually look at the physical symptoms to determine if tests are necessary. The most common types of tests used are:

  • Blood Tests: Doctors test for high levels of hormones in the blood, as well as abnormalities that may tell them the cause of the thyroid problem.
  • Physical Exam: The doctor will do a general exam and also check the thyroid. This will tell the doctor if the thyroid is enlarged or inflamed and also help determine if there are any illnesses or infections that may be an underlying cause.
  • Radio Iodine Test: This test requires the patient to drink a small amount of iodine. Since the thyroid uses iodine to produce hormones, the iodine collects in the thyroid. The doctor will then check the thyroid in six-hour intervals to determine how much iodine the thyroid has absorbed.

Treatment of Hyperthyroidism

Treatment for hyperthyroidism is dependent on the cause. Treatment can be tricky because doctors want to slow the thyroid’s production to the right level, without causing it to be inactive or underactive. The most common types of treatment include:

  • Oral Radioactive Iodine– The pills are taken orally, and the thyroid absorbs the iodine. Over time, it starts to shrink and releases fewer hormones. It takes several months to work but may require the patient to later take synthetic hormones to replace the thyroxine that is no longer produced naturally.
  • Anti-Thyroid Medications– These are pills that simply slow down the production of hormones. It usually started working in three to four months and can help correct the problem permanently. Some people have to take the medication for years or even the rest of their lives.
  • Surgery– In cases where the other treatments do not work or are not good options, surgeons can remove all or part of the thyroid. This stops hormone production, and patients will have to rely on synthetic hormones once they recover.

Prognosis of Hyperthyroidism

People who suffer from hyperthyroidism have a good prognosis as long as they seek treatment. In many cases, finding the cause of the issue is just as important as the issue itself. Once treatment is finished, most people do not have future thyroid problems.