Hyperthyroidism: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

If you have been diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, then you may have noticed some changes in your body, from unexplained weight loss to fatigue and tremors. Read on to learn more about other hyperthyroidism symptoms to look out for and how to treat the thyroid disorder.

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What is Hyperthyroidism?

Hyperthyroidism is a condition that occurs when your thyroid gland is overactive and produces an abnormally high level of thyroxine, a thyroid hormone that influences several mechanisms in your body, including your heart rate, body temperature, use of fats and carbohydrates, and protein production. These hormones also help regulate the amount of calcium in your blood. 

Consequently, an overproduction of thyroxine in your body can throw off the balance of your internal systems, leading to heart palpitations, weight loss, and fatigue.

Read more to find out about this thyroid disorder.

Hyperthyroidism Causes

The most common cause of hyperthyroidism is the autoimmune disorder Graves' disease. This causes your immune system to produce antibodies that stimulate your thyroid gland’s production of thyroxine.

Unsure if you have Graves’ disease? Here are some common symptoms to look out for.
Eye irritation
Bulging eyes
Double vision
Blurred vision
Hyperactive thyroid nodules, which produce too much thyroxine
Thyroiditis or inflammation of the thyroid gland

​Hyperthyroidism Symptoms and Signs

Hyperthyroidism may give rise to the following symptoms:
​Anxiety, tremors, nervousness or irritability
Rapid heartbeat or palpitations
Sweating
Unexplained weight loss 
Fatigue, muscle weakness
Increased frequency of bowel movements
Changes in menstrual periods

​Complications of Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism can lead to serious complications such as arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) and heart failure. 

Other complications include:
Osteoporosis (weak and brittle bones)
Eye problems such as bulging of eyes and blurred vision 
Fever
Delirium

Seek immediate medical attention if you or your loved ones start to exhibit these symptoms.

Diagnosing Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism can be diagnosed through the following methods:
Medical history and physical examination that assess your body for tremors, overactive reflexes, eye changes, warm, moist skin and enlarged thyroid glands
Blood test that measure levels of thyroxine and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) in your body. Patients with hyperthyroidism usually have high levels of thyroxine and low levels of TSH

If the blood tests indicate that you have hyperthyroidism, the doctor may conduct further tests to determine the cause of your overactive thyroid gland.

Hyperthyroidism Treatment Methods

Simple cases of Graves' disease can be managed by the family doctor. However, complicated cases of Graves' disease and hyperthyroidism due to other causes are usually managed by specialists.

The first line of treatment for hyperthyroidism would be anti-thyroid medications, which prevent the thyroid gland from producing excessive amounts of thyroxine. Although symptoms may improve in six to eight weeks, the course of treatment is usually continued for at least 18 months. Do note that you may still experience a relapse even after undergoing this treatment.

Radioactive iodine therapy is another form of treatment. It requires you to consume radioactive iodine, which causes your thyroid gland to shrink. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism usually subside within a few months, with any excess of radioactive iodine disappearing from the body. This treatment may result in hypothyroidism, wherein the thyroid gland becomes underactive. In such cases, you may need to take thyroxine replacement medication for life.

If these treatment methods are unsuitable, then your doctor may recommend a thyroidectomy, a surgical procedure to remove most of your thyroid gland. However, this surgery has associated risks including damage to your vocal cords and parathyroid glands, which help to regulate your calcium levels.

Self-care for Hyperthyroidism

If you are undergoing treatment for hyperthyroidism, then be sure to maintain a strict diet. Hyperthyroidism may cause excessive weight loss, which will require you to increase your calorie and protein intake. It is also important to have an adequate intake of calcium daily to prevent the onset of osteoporosis. Do consult the doctor about your recommended daily calcium intake.

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Hyperthyroidism: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

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