Are You Feeling Tired Lately? You Could Have Hyperthyroidism. Check Out These Symptoms, Treatment
Hyperthyroidism is a condition where the thyroid gland produces excessive amounts of hormones. These hormones help regulate the body’s metabolic processes. In some cases, hyperthyroidism may cause symptoms such as weight loss, fatigue, anxiety, palpitations (irregular heartbeat), muscle weakness, tremors, and depression. If left untreated, hyperthyroidism can lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, and even death.
The thyroid gland is located below Adam’s apple in the neck. It is responsible for producing two different types of hormones: thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). T4 helps regulate how much energy the body uses; T3 regulates metabolic processes. When the thyroid gland becomes enlarged due to hyperthyroidism, it produces excessive amounts of both hormones. It contains two lobes (right and left) and each lobe consists of many small follicles filled with thyroid hormone-producing cells called thyrocytes. The thyroid hormone regulates metabolic processes throughout the body, including those involved in maintaining normal blood pressure, heartbeat, breathing rate, body temperature, and mental alertness. Thyroid hormones regulate the activity of many organs including the brain, heart, muscles, kidneys, liver, bone, immune system, blood vessels, intestine, and others. In children, thyroid hormone helps them grow faster than normal; adults need less thyroid hormone to function normally.
There are several different types of hyperthyroidism, depending on how much thyroid hormone is produced. Graves’ disease is the most common type of hyperthyroidism. Graves’ disease occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks the thyroid gland, causing it to produce excess thyroid hormone. Other causes of hyperthyroidism include toxic multinodular goiter, radiation exposure, and certain medications.
What Causes Hyperthyroidism?
The thyroid gland is located at the base of the throat behind Adam’s apple. When functioning properly, the thyroid gland regulates the amount of iodine and thyroxine in the blood. Thyroxine is a hormone produced by the thyroid gland that helps control the rate of metabolism. Excess production of thyroxine causes a person to have high levels of energy and increased appetite.
Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism: If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your doctor immediately.
- Weight Loss
- Palpitations (irregular pulse)
- Muscle Weakness
- Heart Disease
Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include weight loss, fatigue, nervousness, anxiety, palpitations, tremors, sweating, diarrhea, constipation, rapid pulse, red eyes, dry skin, brittle nails and hair, menstrual irregularities in women, and goiter. Patients who have been diagnosed with hyperthyroidism should visit their doctor regularly to monitor any changes in their condition. Blood tests are often performed to check thyroid function.
Treatment for hyperthyroidism includes medication, surgery, and radioiodine ablation therapy. Medication treatment involves taking synthetic thyroid-stimulating hormone receptor-blocking drugs called thiamazole or propylthiouracil. These medications block the action of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), thereby reducing the amount of thyroid hormone produced. Thiamazole is taken orally once daily while propylthiouracil is given intravenously. Both treatments take about 6 months before they begin to work. Once the medication begins working, patients need to continue taking them indefinitely.
Does Hyperthyroidism lead to cancer?
A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism suggests that pregnant women who were exposed to radiation from the Fukushima nuclear disaster may have an increased risk of developing thyroid cancer later in life.
In 2011, after the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan’s Tohoku region, the Japanese government evacuated people living near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. More than 1 million people were forced to leave their homes. Radiation was released into the air, water, and land. According to the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR), exposure to low doses of ionizing radiation below 100 mSv/year increases the lifetime risk of developing thyroid cancer.
They discovered that the incidence rates of thyroid cancer were higher among evacuees than non-evacuees. Moreover, the risk of getting thyroid cancer was highest among evacuees who stayed in temporary shelters or spent time working outside. Evacuees who returned home were at lower risk of thyroid cancer than those who remained away from their hometown. According to the findings, the likelihood of developing thyroid cancer rose over time after the evacuation. Among evacuees, the risk increased gradually until 2013. After that point, the number of cases started declining.
Researchers believe that this pattern also explains the differences in lifestyle factors, especially diet. However, they cannot rule out the possibility of residual confounding. First, the sample size was relatively small. Second, follow-up information about the participants was lacking. Third, the study population consisted only of residents of Fukushima Prefecture, which limits its generalizability. However, the results seem consistent with previous studies, suggesting that even a few days of exposure to radioactive iodine affects the thyroid glands and might increase the risk of developing thyroid cancer years later.
Finally, Things You Should Know About Hyperthyroidism
What causes hyperthyroidism?
Hyperthyroidism can develop after a person suffers from Grave’s Disease, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, or Toxic Multinodular Goiter. Graves’ Disease occurs when your body produces antibodies that attack the thyroid gland, causing inflammation. In cases of toxic multinodular goiters, the thyroid becomes enlarged due to the accumulation of iodine-containing cells. Both conditions can lead to the overproduction of T4, resulting in hyperthyroidism.
How do I know if I have hyperthyroidism?
Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include feeling anxious, nervousness, irritability, restlessness, increased appetite, weight loss, and tachycardia (a fast heartbeat). Other symptoms include palpitations (irregular heartbeat), muscle aches, fatigue, insomnia, tremors, sweating, and diarrhea. A doctor will perform a physical exam and check your thyroid function levels. You may need additional tests to confirm whether you have hyperthyroidism. These tests include checking your thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) level and free T4 level.
Is hyperthyroidism dangerous?
Yes! Untreated hyperthyroidism can result in complications, including heart failure, stroke, kidney disease, and bone fractures. Your doctor will monitor you closely while treating your hyperthyroidism. He/she may prescribe medications to control thyroid activity and reduce the risk of developing these complications.
Can I treat my hyperthyroidism myself?
You should seek medical attention immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms: shortness of breath, chest pain, rapid pulse rate, irregular heartbeat, swelling of the neck, trouble breathing, dizziness, fainting, vision changes, numbness, weakness, slurred speech, confusion, or hallucinations.
What treatment options are available for hyperthyroidism?
Treatments for hyperthyroidism depending on the severity of your condition. Treatment includes lifestyle modifications, medication, surgery, radioactive iodine therapy, and laser ablation. Lifestyle adjustments are often helpful in managing hyperthyroidism. You may need to change your diet and exercise regimen to avoid triggering your condition. You may also want to limit caffeine intake and alcohol consumption. Medication is often prescribed to manage hyperthyroidism. Examples of medications include methimazole, propylthiouracil, carbimazole, and propranolol.