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Hyperthyroidism

Written by Courteney

Posted on March 30, 2016 at 1:19 am

There are many thyroid conditions, but the two most common are hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism (catch our blog on hypothyroidism in case you missed it earlier today). Your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland just below the Adam’s Apple that produces the thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) hormones which help regulate oxygen levels as well as help control your metabolism, growth, appetite, heartbeat and reproductive health. It is estimated that more than 20 million Americans have some kind of a thyroid condition, and more females are affected than males.

Hyperthyroidism

As you can imagine, hyperthyroidism is the opposite of the hypothyroidism. While people with hypothyroidism don’t produce enough thyroid hormones, those with hyperthyroidism have overactive thyroid glands that produce an abnormal excess of the hormones. Hyperthyroidism causes all kinds of chaos in the body, often producing such effects as elevated blood pressure. Hyperthyroidism can happen on its own, or can be caused by an underlying autoimmune disease such as Lupus. It is also associated with a condition called thyroiditis, where the gland becomes chronically inflamed. The most common cause of hyperthyroidism is an immune disorder called Grave’s disease.

Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism

Signs and symptoms of hyperthyroidism sometimes progress slowly, but can lead to the following:

  • Drastically increased appetite
  • Weight loss even if you’re eating more food (not all sufferers lose weight)
  • Anxiety or nervousness
  • Tachycardia or irregular heartbeat
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Uncontrollable sweating
  • Trembling
  • Weakness
  • Hot flashes and getting hot easily
  • Abnormal menstrual periods (fewer and lighter)
  • Red, irritated eyes
  • Changes in bowel movements (more frequent or loose)

Treatment

One treatment option for hyperthyroidism is oral radioactive iodine which causes the thyroid gland to shrink, helping even out thyroid symptoms. It has been shown, through decades of popular use, to be a safe treatment. Another treatment option is anti-thyroid medications which gradually reduce the hormones produced by the thyroid gland. Anti-thyroid medications don’t work well for everyone, many of them can be a little more problematic than iorine. They can cause rare but serious side effects such as potentially fatal liver damage, so they should be used with caution. Your doctor will know which carry less risks than others. Beta blockers are often prescribed to people with hyperthyroidism to help lower the heartrate and stabilize high blood pressure caused by the disorder. Lastly, a surgery called thyroidectomy can be performed if a person doesn’t respond to, or is allergic to any of the medications, but this is a last case resort.

While many of the symptoms can be attributed to other conditions, if you experience several of those listed it may be time to look into it. If you do suspect you may have hyperthyroidism, you should check in with your doctor or one of our certified physicians at DocChat to be further evaluated.

 

 

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