Thyroid is an essential hormone for the body, responsible for regulating the basal metabolic rate (BMR), weight and many other reactions. Too much and too little thyroid hormone are both problematic and need treatment from Endocrinologist in Islamabad. If the body produces too much thyroid hormone, the condition is called hyperthyroidism, and needs management by antithyroid drugs or surgery for treatment. Read on to know more about hyperthyroidism, its symptoms, causes, risk factors and complications:
What is hyperthyroidism?
Hyperthyroidism is when the thyroid gland—butterfly shaped gland located in the neck region—produces too much thyroid hormone. This can be due to excessive production directly from the thyroid gland, or if too much stimulus occurs from the hypothalamus through the TSH or thyroid stimulating hormone. The hormones responsible for hyperthyroidism include the two forms of thyroid hormones: triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4).
Hyperthyroidism is relatively rare (around 1 percent in the United States alone) and is more common in females. Hyperthyroidism can mimic other diseases; thus, it can be difficult to diagnose. However, once your healthcare provider suspects it, it is relatively easy to confirm through blood investigations.
What are the symptoms of hyperthyroidism?
The symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:
- Unintentional weight loss
- Irregular heart beat (arrhythmia)
- Rapid heart rate (tachycardia)
- Changes in the menstrual pattern
- Pounding heartbeat (palpitations)
- Nervousness, irritability and anxiety
- Fatigue and muscle weakness
- Skin thinning
- Insomnia and difficulty sleeping
- Brittle hair
- Raised body temperature and intolerance to heat
- Frequent bowel movements
- Goiter or swelling in the neck
What is Graves’ ophthalmopathy?
Hyperthyroidism can affect the eyes and cause a condition called Graves’ ophthalmopathy. This is when the eyeballs show proptosis or protrusion beyond normal, due to swelling and inflammation of the tissues and muscles around the eyeballs. Graves’ ophthalmopathy presents with:
- Excessive tearing in one or both eyes
- Dry eyes
- Sensitivity to light
- Blurry vision or double vision
- Reduced eye movement
What are the causes of hyperthyroidism?
Hyperthyroidism can be due to too much production by the thyroid gland, or too much stimulating hormone from the brain. This can be due to:
- Graves’ disease: this is an autoimmune disorder in which there are antibodies against the thyroid gland which mimics the stimulating hormones, thereby causing the thyroid gland to make too much T3 and T4. Graves’ disorder is an autoimmune disorder and the antibodies produced are autoantibodies. Graves’ is one of the commonest cause of hyperthyroidism.
- Thyroiditis: inflammation of the thyroid gland, such as that seen post-pregnancy, is called thyroiditis and can result in leakage of too much thyroid hormones into the bloodstream and subsequent hyperthyroidism. There are types of both painful and painless thyroiditis.
- Multinodular goiter: functional nodules present in the thyroid can result in high T3 and T4 in the body. These nodules are generally small, isolated adenomas that are benign and produce too much T4. Too many nodules if present simultaneously can cause an enlarged thyroid gland or goiter, which can have pressure effect on the underlying structures.
What are the risk factors associated with hyperthyroidism?
The risk factors of hyperthyroidism are:
- Genetic predisposition
- Female gender
- Autoimmune diseases like type 1 diabetes and pernicious anemia
What are the complications of hyperthyroidism?
There can be numerous complications associated with hyperthyroidism, including:
- Heart problems: one of the most serious complications of excessive thyroid gland is change in the heart rate that can cause rapid heart rate, rhythm disorder, congestive heart failure and even risk of stroke.
- Eye problems: Graves’ ophthalmopathy can cause eye diseases including bulged eyes, sensitivity to light, double vision and even loss of vision.
- Brittle bones: hyperthyroidism without treatment can result in weak, brittle bones due to osteoporosis. This happens due to interference of thyroid hormone in the calcification process of the bones, whereby calcium cements and strengthens the bones.
- Red, swollen skin: Graves’ dermopathy is when the thyroid gland disease involves skin disorders including redness and swelling, particularly in the lower limbs.
Thyroid storm: is when there is thyroid crisis in the body leading to rapid heart rate, fever and even delirium. This condition needs immediate help from Endocrinologist in Lahore and prompt management for survival.
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