Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism

Symptoms of hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland makes too many hormones.

Located in the neck around the area of the throat, the thyroid gland is part of the endocrine system. It manufactures hormones that control a number of processes in the body related to metabolism, or the rate at which the body performs necessary functions. In a person with hyperthyroidism, excess thyroid hormones in the blood can cause many problems over time.

Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism symptoms include nervousness, irritability and trembling. In some cases, the thyroid gland itself becomes enlarged and sticks noticeably out of the lower neck. The protrusion is known as a goiter.

Since metabolism increases when too many thyroid hormones are produced, people with hyperthyroidism may feel hot, even when others around them do not. Weight loss is another symptom of hyperthyroidism, but since the condition can cause increased appetite as well, people with hyperthyroidism may eat more, causing them to gain weight rather than lose it.

Other symptoms of hyperthyroidism include fatigue and difficulty sleeping. As the condition progresses, people with hyperthyroidism may also experience muscle weakness, shortness of breath or chest pain.

Symptoms of hyperthyroidism usually develop so gradually, that people with the condition often do not recognize it until they have had it for some time. Older people often do not experience the classic symptoms at all. They may become depressed and begin to lose weight but not connect the symptoms to hyperthyroidism until a blood test determines the diagnosis.

Diagnose and Treatment

When symptoms of hyperthyroidism are noticed, the condition is diagnosed by measuring the levels of thyroid hormone in the blood.

There are three hormones usually measured: thyroxine (T4), triiodothyronine (T3), and thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). The thyroid hormone that is most active in the body is T3, which is converted from T4 in the blood.

People with hyperthyroidism will usually have high levels of both T3 and T4. Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) stimulates the production of T3 and T4. When levels of T3 and T4 are high, levels of TSH decrease in an attempt to slow the release of thyroid hormones into the blood stream. Therefore, a low level of TSH is consistent with a diagnosis of hyperthyroidism.

Once diagnosed, hyperthyroidism can be treated by medication, surgery or a procedure called ablation, in which radioactive iodine is used to decrease the function of the overactive thyroid. Since ablation often results in low thyroid function, patients often need to take medication subsequent to ablation in order to rebalance the thyroid and bring hormone production back to normal.





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