The Basics of Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism is the condition of having an overactive thyroid gland. It is a lot more common than many people believe as most that are affected just live with their condition. Only in very drastic manifestations of hyperthyroidism will some people seek further medical assistance.

According to The Mayo Clinic, hyperthyroidism tends to imitate symptoms of other illnesses that makes it quite difficult for medical professionals to diagnose. However, once known, there are several treatments available ranging from anti-thyroid medicines to radioactive therapy to surgery involving removal of the thyroid gland.

General Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism

Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include hand tremors, increased sweating, insomnia, skin thinning, anxiety, muscle weakness and of course frequent bowel movements and sudden weight loss both due to increased metabolism. These symptoms, as listed by the American Thyroid Association, are just some that are seen in most patients with hyperthyroidism. These are effects of the overproduction of thyroid hormones that speed up bodily functions.

Kinds of Hyperthyroidism

Grave’s Disease is the most common type and cause of hyperthyroidism. It usually runs in the family. In 1835, Doctor Robert J Graves described this ailment as the production of too much thyroid hormone due to the immune system’s antibodies signaling the thyroid gland to do so. It is unclear what exactly causes Grave’s disease, but researchers have suggested links between genes and outside factors such as viruses. The US National Institutes of Health has shared that in the United States alone, this disease affects about 1 in 200 people. This autoimmune disease strikes at any age, but is statistically found to be more prevalent in ages 30 to 50. It is also about seven times more common in women than in men as women are found to be at a higher risk to develop one or more autoimmune diseases in their lifetime. Graves’ opthalmopathy, although uncommon, is an extension of Graves’ disease characterized by the protrusion of the eyeballs due to an inflammatory response seen in the eye muscle.

Another type of hyperthyroidism is Hashitoxicosis. It is differentiated from Graves’ disease only on the following:

It is described in a 2018 research shared by the US National Library of Medicine as the initial hyperthyroid phase of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, a disease that kills thyroid tissue further leading to hypothyroidism. Hashitoxicosis is characterized by an inflammation leading to the destruction of thyroid follicles, which in effect causes the release of excessive thyroid hormones. Although it should generally only last a few months, there are rare cases wherein it lasts for years before fully converting to Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.

Toxic Multinodular Goiter, also known as Plummer’s Disease, is the abnormal overgrowths of tissue in sections of the thyroid gland that may cause breathing difficulty and severe pains that travel to the ears or the jaw, as explained by Dr Robert Ferry Jr in his article found in in MedicineNet.com. Although most nodules are benign, some may lead to thyroid cancers if left undiagnosed. Treatments include blocking excess production of hormones through medications and radioactive iodine therapy.

Advancements in medicine and technology has allowed for easier diagnosis and better treatments for hyperthyroidism. Any symptom felt early on must be consulted with a medical professional to ensure little to no progression of ailment.

Citations and references:

  1. The Mayo Clinic. Hyperthyroidism (Overactive Thyroid). Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hyperthyroidism/symptoms-causes/syc-20373659
  2. American Thyroid Association. Hyperthyroidism (Overactive). Retrieved from https://www.thyroid.org/hyperthyroidism/
  3. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, US National Institutes of Health. (2017 September). Graves’ Disease. Retrieved from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/endocrine-diseases/graves-disease
  4. Shahbaz A., Aziz K., Umair M., Sachmechi I., (2018 June 14). Prolonged Duration of Hashitoxicosis in a Patient with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis: A Case Report and Review of Literature. Cureus Publising. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6093271/
  5. Ferry Jr. R., edited by Stöppler M C., 8 Thyroid Nodules Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Guidelines. Retrieved from https://www.medicinenet.com/thyroid_nodules/article.htm#thyroid_nodules_definition_and_facts
  6. Kirmizibeknez H., Multu R G Y., Dursun F., Günay M., (2014 December 5). Atypical Presentation of Hashimoto’s Disease in an Adolescent: Thyroid-Associated Ophthalmopathy. Journal of Clinical Research in Pediatric Endocrinology. Retireved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4293664/
  7. Toft D J., reviewed by Sargis R M., (2018 July 6). Graves’ Disease Overview. Retrieved from https://www.endocrineweb.com/conditions/graves-disease/graves-disease-overview

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