Diseases & Conditions


HyperthyroidismCausesMedicationsPreventionRisk FactorsSymptomsTreatment

What is Hyperthyroidism?

Hyperthyroidism signifies overactive tissue within the confines of the thyroid gland. The condition results in an overproduction of T3 or triiodothyronineT4 or thyroxin which are essentially thyroid hormones. Thus hyperthyroidism is a cause that leads to thyrotoxicosis, a clinical condition that involves increased levels of thyroid hormones in human blood.

Causes of hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism involves various causes which include…

Grave’s disease: Graves’ disease or toxic diffuse goiter happens to be the most widespread cause of toxic diffuse goiter in the U.S. The condition is essentially an autoimmune syndrome. This means that the immune system of a body functions in opposition to its healthy tissues as well as cells. In the case of Graves’ disease, this immune system produces an antibody termed TSI or thyroid stimulating immunoglobulin that mimics the thyroid stimulating hormone and makes the thyroid gland to produce an excess of thyroid hormone.

Thyroid nodules: Thyroid nodules, also known as adenomas are basically lumps in a thyroid gland. These nodules are nothing uncommon and are usually non-cancerous. Only a relatively small percentage of patients have them. However, nodules can turn overactive and go on to produce hormone in excess amounts. A nodule that becomes overactive is termed toxic adenoma. However, when a group of nodules turn overactive, it is named toxic multinodular goiter. This condition is often prevalent in elderly people and might lead to the production of large amounts of too much thyroid hormone.

Thyroiditis: Various kinds of thyroiditis might cause hyperthyroidism. Thyroiditis in no way makes the thyroid gland to produce too much hormone, but makes the inflamed gland seep thyroid hormone out, thereby raising the levels of hormone in one’s blood.

Iodine Ingestion: The thyroid makes use of iodine in order to produce thyroid hormone. Hence the quantity of iodine one consumes will control the quantity of the thyroid hormone one’s thyroid produces. Consuming increased quantities of iodine can make the thyroid gland to make too much thyroid hormone.

Overuse of medications containing iodine: If a medication containing iodine is taken in excess as it so often happens, it can lead to hyperthyroidism.

Medication for hyperthyroidism

Till other treatments become effective, a doctor might prescribe a medication termed beta blockers in order to bring down the symptoms. Beta blockers can act quickly in order to alleviate most of the symptoms related to hyperthyroidism like rapid heartbeat, nervousness and tremors. After taking the beta blockers most patients tend to feel better soon enough for the medication blocks the ill effects of the thyroid hormone on the body. However, beta blockers do not prevent the production of thyroid hormone. Doctors usually prescribe drugs such as propylthiouracil and Tapazole for treating hyperthyroidism. Such antithyroid medication obstructs the production of the thyroid hormone by the simple method of blocking the manner in which the thyroid uses iodine in order to produce thyroid hormone. However, levels of thyroid hormone might not become normal for many weeks or even months. Such treatment can take many years to take effect and even then it might not produce any permanent result.

Prevention of hyperthyroidism

The only way to prevent hyperthyroidism is to conduct routine tests to reveal thyroid problems, particularly sub-clinical problems. The term sub-clinical signifies that an individual does not display any evident problems related to the condition.

Risk factors of hyperthyroidism

If hyperthyroidism remains untreated on a long term basis, it can lead to the bone condition osteoporosis. Thyroid storm, otherwise known as thryrotoxic crisis is an infrequent but grave complication arising out of hyperthyroidism. This condition can occur whenever thyrotoxic patients either gets extremely sick or stressed physically. The symptoms might make the temperature of the body exceed 40 C as also include arrhythmia, tachycardia, diarrhea, vomiting, dehydration, coma and even death. Thyrotoxic crisis necessitates emergency hospitalization and treatment.

Symptoms of hyperthyroidism

  • Irritability or nervousness
  • Muscle weakness of general fatigue
  • Have trouble in sleeping
  • Inability to tolerate heat
  • Weight loss
  • Irregular and rapid heartbeat
  • Diarrhea and increased bowel movements
  • Loss of hair and weight
  • Goiter, making the neck swollen
  • Swings in one’s mood

Treatment for hyperthyroidism

The first step in the treatment of hyperthyroidism is to look for the right kind of specialist. Treatment is dependent upon the causes of the condition and how severe your hyperthyroidism is. Before opting for an appropriate treatment regimen, a physician takes into consideration the patient’s age, potential side effects or allergies to medications and conditions like heart disease and pregnancy. The object of the treatment of hyperthyroidism is to reduce the level of hormone to normal levels, thereby averting long-term complications as well as to bring relief to uncontrollable symptoms. There is no single treatment for hyperthyroidism and the treatment options include medication, surgery and radioiodine therapy.