Hyperthyroidism is a medical condition in which the thyroid gland produces too much of the thyroid hormone – thyroxine.
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located at the bottom of your throat, facing the trachea. This gland has the function of producing hormones that can affect your heart rate, body temperature, and how fast your body burns calories.
The hormones produced by the thyroid gland help control the body’s metabolism. However, when this hormone is produced in excessive amounts, unpleasant symptoms will appear and affect your overall health.
When a person has hyperthyroidism, the metabolic rate becomes too fast or uncontrollable.
The condition of hyperthyroidism can affect anyone – no matter your age or gender. However, the symptoms are ten times more likely to develop in women than men.
Hyperthyroidism commonly occurs in people within the age range of 20 to 40 years.
Causes of Hyperthyroidism
Hyperthyroidism can occur due to an overactive thyroid gland. An overactive thyroid gland leads to excess levels of thyroxine hormone and a metabolic rate that is too fast.
An active thyroid gland will result in very high levels of the hormones triiodothyronine and thyroxine.
There are several medical conditions that have the potential to cause the thyroid gland to become overactive:
Most people with hyperthyroidism deal with Graves’ disease. This is an autoimmune disease and tends to occur in women under the age of 40.
Graves’ disease refers to a condition where the immune system attacks the thyroid gland and causes it to become overactive. The cause of this disease is unknown, but it mostly occurs in active smokers.
Thyroid nodules are lumps that appear on the thyroid gland. This lump can cause the thyroid gland to overwork and produce too much thyroid hormone.
The cause of the thyroid nodule is unknown. However, it generally affects the elderly over the age of 60.
Apart from the medical symptoms above, there are also several other factors that might trigger hyperthyroidism such as:
- Thyroid cancer.
- Thyroiditis, swelling or inflammation of the thyroid.
- Pituitary adenoma, a non-cancerous tumor that can affect the performance of thyroid hormones.
- Excess levels of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) in the body, usually occurs during early pregnancy.
When to See a Doctor for Hyperthyroidism?
When dealing with the conditions and symptoms of hyperthyroidism, you should consult an internist or internal medicine specialist doctor. Before making a diagnosis, the doctor will first ask about the patient’s personal and family medical history. Subsequently, the doctor will be able to confirm the symptoms suffered by the patient.
If the doctor suspects hyperthyroidism, the doctor will run a series of tests such as:
- Thyroid panel test, a blood test to determine the levels of thyroid hormone and thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), which stimulates hormone production.
- Thyroid gland scan, a test to look for lumps or other problems in the thyroid gland.
- Ultrasound, a test that involves placing a device in the neck to produce images of the thyroid gland using sound waves.
- Radioactive iodine test, a test where the patient is asked to swallow a small amount of radioactive iodine and measure the iodine accumulated in the thyroid using a device called a gamma probe.
Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism
The most common symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:
- Thinning skin.
- Brittle hair.
- Sleep disturbance.
- Easy to feel thirsty.
- Frequent bowel movements.
- Fatigue and weakness
- Sensitive to heat.
- Finger tremor.
- Heart palpitations.
- Mood swings.
- Menstrual cycle changes.
- Swollen thyroid (goiter).
- Drastic weight loss.
Not all patients diagnosed with hyperthyroidism experience all of the symptoms mentioned above. Adult patients are more likely to have an increased heart rate or heart palpitations, and are sensitive to heat.
In some cases, patients who have other medical conditions and are taking certain medications may not experience symptoms of hyperthyroidism. High blood pressure medications are among the medications that mask the symptoms of hyperthyroidism.
In the early stages of hypothyroidism, the patient will feel energized. This is because the body’s metabolic rate increases. However, over time, the patient will start feeling tired more easily
Treatment for Hyperthyroidism
Treatment of hyperthyroidism is based on the patient’s age, health condition, and type of hyperthyroidism. Generally, treatment includes medications, surgery, and radiological iodine therapy.
The most common medication to treat hyperthyroidism is called ethionamide. This medicine works to prevent the thyroid gland from producing too much hormone.
Ethionamide consumption is usually done within 1 to 2 months. In addition, your doctor may also prescribe a beta-blocker medication to temporarily treat the symptoms.
When the thyroid hormone levels return to normal, the doctor will gradually reduce the dose until it completely stops. However, some patients may have to continue taking the necessary medications for the rest of their lives.
This radiotherapy procedure is useful for destroying cells in the thyroid gland so that it can reduce excess levels of thyroid hormone production. This is considered the most effective type of treatment for hyperthyroidism.
Radioiodine therapy is carried out by taking capsules containing low doses of iodine and radiation. Both will be absorbed by the thyroid gland. The dose of radiation and iodine given is very low to avoid dangerous side effects.
You should only do this therapy just once, but you will need to consume certain medications after treatment.
In some cases, your doctor may recommend surgical procedures to remove the thyroid gland to treat hyperthyroidism. This method is used when you have a very swollen thyroid gland due to a goiter and are dealing with eye problems due to an overactive thyroid gland.
Prior to surgery, patients are required to take antithyroid medicines to prevent complications or new diseases that arise as a result of existing disease. After that, the patient will be required to take hormone supplements.
Treatment Cost for Hyperthyroidism
The cost for Hyperthyroidism treatment varies, depending on the patient’s condition and the treatment method chosen.
For more information regarding the estimated costs of Hyperthyroidism treatment, contact Smarter Health.
Prevention of Hyperthyroidism
Hyperthyroidism prevention can be done by keeping yourself away from diseases that trigger the thyroid gland to become overactive. Most hyperthyroidism causes are unknown, but preventive measures can still be done by identifying groups of risk factors.
Another way to prevent hyperthyroidism is by maintaining your overall health. You can start the habit of maintaining a healthy life by eating nutritious foods and exercising regularly.
For people with risk factors, it is important to ensure that you do not have any other possible diseases that trigger hyperthyroidism. Therefore, it is recommended to check yourself regularly to maintain your health.
Home Remedies for Patients Diagnosed with Hyperthyroidism
There are several treatments that patients diagnosed with hyperthyroidism can do at home. The primary remedy is by making sure the patient consumes the medication regularly.
Hyperthyroidism can be treated with medications. Patients who have undergone surgical treatment are still required to take medication. This is to ensure that the thyroid gland continues to work properly.