What is hyperthyroidism?
Hyperthyroidism means overactivity of the thyroid gland, resulting in too much thyroid hormone in the bloodstream. The oversecretion of thyroid hormones leads to overactivity of the body's metabolism.
What are the symptoms of hyperthyroidism?
The following are the most common symptoms of hyperthyoidism. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
The symptoms of hyperthyroidism may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Consult a physician for diagnosis.
Types of hyperthyroidism:
There are several forms of hyperthyroidism, including:
Graves' disease (diffuse toxic goiter)
Graves' disease is most often associated with hyperthyroidism. Researchers believe Graves' disease is caused by an antibody which stimulates the thyroid too much, in turn causing the excess production of thyroid hormone. Graves' disease is categorized as an autoimmune disorder (a dysfunction of the body's immune system). The disease is most common in young to middle-aged women and tends to run in families.
Symptoms of Graves' disease are identical to hyperthyroidism, with the addition of three other symptoms. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. The three additional symptoms include:
- goiter (enlarged thyroid which may cause a bulge in the neck)
- bulging eyes (exophthalmos)
- thickened skin over the shin area
toxic nodular goiter (also called multinodular goiter)
Hyperthyroidism caused by toxic nodular goiter is a condition in which one or more nodules of the thyroid becomes overactive. The overactive nodules actually act as benign thyroid tumors. Symptoms of toxic nodular goiter do not include bulging eyes or skin problems, as in Graves' disease. The cause of toxic nodular goiter is not known.
Thyroiditis causes temporary hyperthyroidism, usually followed with hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid). Thyroiditis is an inflammation of the thyroid gland. There are three types of thyroiditis:
- Hashimoto's thyroiditis
- subacute granulomatous thyroiditis
- silent lymphocytic thyroiditis
In addition, if a person takes too many thyroid hormone tablets, hyperthyroidism may occur.
How is hyperthyroidism diagnosed?
In addition to a complete medical history and medical examination, diagnostic procedures for hyperthyroidism may include:
Treatment for hyperthyroidism:
Treatment for hyperthyroidism is very specific for each patient. The goal of treatment is to restore the thyroid gland to normal function, producing normal levels of thyroid hormone. Specific treatment for hyperthyroidism will be determined by your physician based on:
Treatment may include: