Endocrine Diseases
Hyperthyroidism
 

​Overview:

  • Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) occurs when your thyroid gland produces too much of the hormone thyroxine. 
  • It may be caused by several other medical conditions. 
  • You should see your doctor if you think you have symptoms and signs of an overactive thyroid.  
  • Hyperthyroidism can be treated with medications, radioactive iodine or surgery.
  • There is no known way to prevent hypothyroidism.

It is a butterfly-shape gland located in the front of the neck, helps regulate blood pressure, heart rate, body temperature, weight and other vital functions.

Thyroid Gland Hormones and Functions: 
  • Thyroxine: It plays a major role in regulating: digestion, heartbeat, muscle function, brain development, and maintaining bone health.
  • Thyroid triglyceride: It has a key role in regulating metabolism, digestion, heartbeat, muscle control, brain development, and bone health.
  • Calcitonin: It plays a role in regulating the level of calcium in the body.

Defining Hyperthyroidism:
Hyperthyroidism occurs when your thyroid gland produces too much of the hormone thyroxine.

Other Names:
Overactive thyroid - hyperthyreosis.

Causes:
Several medical conditions can cause hyperthyroidism, including:
  • Graves' disease: One of most common causes of the disease, where the immune system attacks the thyroid gland and causes it to become overactive.
  • Appearance of thyroid nodules: Thyroid nodules are common and usually benign, one or more nodules may become overactive and produce too much thyroid hormone.
  • Thyroiditis.
  • Too much iodine: Consuming large amounts of iodine in foods or medications may cause the thyroid to make too much thyroid hormone.

Risk Factors:
  • Women are more likely than men to develop the disease. 
  • Hyperthyroidism caused by Graves' disease is often spread among members of the same family.

The Most Vulnerable Groups:
  • Patients with pernicious anemia, a type of anemia caused by vitamin B12 deficiency.
  • Patients with type 1 diabetes.
  • Patients with adrenal insufficiency.

Symptoms:
  • Weight loss.
  • Increased appetite.
  • Rapid heartbeat.
  • Nervousness, anxiety and irritability.
  • Tremor — usually a fine trembling in your hands and fingers.
  • Increased sweating. 
  • Increased sensitivity to heat.
  • Increased frequency of bowel movements.
  • Swelling in the neck. 
  • Muscle weakness.
  • Difficulty sleeping.
  • Skin thinning, coarse and dry hair.

When to See a Doctor?
If you experience hyperthyroidism symptoms. 

Complications:
If left untreated, hyperthyroidism can lead to a number of complications:
  • Eye problems.
  • Underactive thyroid.
  • Thyroid storm.
  • Heart problems.
  • Osteoporosis.

Diagnosis:
  • Medical history.
  • Physical examination. 
  • Lab tests (blood test).
  • Thyroid scan.
If a family member has hyperthyroidism consult your doctor, other family members may need to do thyroid function tests.

Treatment:
  • Medications: Some medications prevent your thyroid gland from producing excess amounts of hormones. Beta blockers may also be used to control side effects. 
  • Radioactive Iodine Therapy (RIT): This treatment results in the destruction of some of the thyroid tissue and reduces excessive production of hormones. 
  • Surgery: In a thyroidectomy, your doctor removes your thyroid gland or part of it, and when completely removed, the patient will need to take thyroid drugs for life.

Prevention:
There is no cure for hyperthyroidism, but it can be managed with medications.  

  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): Is it possible to remove the entire thyroid gland?
The doctor takes the decision according to the severity of symptoms and activity of the gland and the onset of complications.
  • ​Does the environment influence the thyroid gland?
Yes, eating some foods that contain a large amount of iodine may increase thyroid gland activity.
  • Do patients need to take thyroid gland medications for the rest of their life?
If the thyroid gland is surgically removed, drugs should be taken for life to replace its hormone. 

Misconceptions:
  • Thyroid disorder is associated with enlarged neck.
Fact: The increase in the thyroid gland activity does cause an increase in its size
  • Thyroid patients always suffer from swollen eye.

Fact: They suffer from swollen eye when the gland is overactive and cannot be controlled by medications.

  • Thyroid disorder is contagious

Fact: Of course, it is not contagious, but a family member is likely to develop the disease than anyone else, either due to genetic factor or common food system. 










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