Tag Archives: hyperthyroidism

What Contributes to Thyroid Dysfunction?

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of the neck (below the Adam’s apple) that produces the triiodothyronine and thyroxine hormones. These hormones help regulate many functions within the body including metabolism, heart rate, growth and reproductive processes. A whopping 20 million Americans will develop some type of thyroid condition at some point in their lifetimes, more women being affected than men. There are various disorders that cause this gland to malfunction, let’s take a closer look:

Different Thyroid Conditions

The two most common thyroid diseases are: Hypothyroidism (when your thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormones), and hyperthyroidism (when your thyroid gland is overactive). However, thyroid dysfunction goes well beyond these two disorders. Some of the lesser known thyroid conditions include:

  1. Thyroid cancer – There are different types of cancer that affect the thyroid such as medullary, follicular, hurtle cell and anaplastic thyroid cancer.
  2. Goiter – When the thyroid gland becomes abnormally enlarged it is referred to as a goiter. It is often caused by an iodine deficiency and may indicate an underlying condition.
  3. Thyroiditis – refers to inflammation of the thyroid gland caused by an underlying condition (such as a virus).
  4. Graves’ Disease – is an autoimmune disorder caused by the overproduction of thyroid hormones and leads to hyperthyroidism.
  5. Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis – is an autoimmune disease whereby the body attacks its own thyroid gland, resulting in many problems such as inflammation, weight gain and cold intolerance.

What Can Cause the Thyroid to Malfunction?

Sometimes the cause is unknown, but common contributing factors include:

  • Autoimmunity – when the body produces antibodies that attack your own organs, glands and tissues it can disrupt the thyroid leading to one of the disorders listed above. This can be hereditary or as a result of certain bacteria or viruses.
  • Congenital causes – sometimes babies are born with an underdeveloped or missing thyroid gland.
  • Medications or treatments – certain medications or treatments such as lithium or radiation can cause the thyroid to malfunction.
  • Iodine levels – taking in too little or too much iodine can interfere with thyroid function.
  • Certain substances such as red dye (no. 3), processed meat or certain chemicals (like perfluorochemicals) can cause thyroid disruption or even thyroid cancer.
  • Benign or malignant tumors can block the thyroid or lead to cancer of the thyroid.
  • Pregnancy – According to the Mayo Clinic, in rare instances pregnant women develop antibodies to their thyroid gland during or post pregnancy, resulting in hypothyroidism (this should be addressed immediately if it happens during the pregnancy as it can cause harm to the baby).
  • Pituitary glad malfunction – when the pituitary gland fails to produce enough thyroid-stimulating hormone it can cause thyroid conditions.

Well, there you have some of the major types and causes of thyroid dysfunction! Thanks for visiting DocChat. If you have any medical concerns, our board-certified physicians are standing by 24/7/365 to assist you!


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.


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)


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.