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HyperthyroidismRead more wellness Resources

What is hyperthyroidism?

Hyperthyroidism is the condition in which there is excessive production of the thyroid hormone.

What are the causes of hyperthyroidism?

The most common cause of hyperthyroidism is Grave's Disease, which is caused by the body's defense mechanism acting against its own cells. It can also be caused by a single nodule of the gland producing excessive hormones. The other causes include inflammation of the gland causing it to produce excessive hormones and over treatment of hypothyroidism causing hyperthyroidism.

What are the symptoms of hyperthyroidism?

Immaterial of the cause of hyperthyroidism, the most common symptoms are weight loss, anxiety, hair loss, intolerance to heat, irritability, hyperactivity, increased urination, increased appetite and sweating. Additionally some patients also suffer from irregular heartbeats, shortness of breath, loss of libido, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. The most commonly noted symptom however is the 'hyperthyroid stare' which is a classic sign of hyperthyroid state. Patients appear to constantly have a wide gaze stare which is often noted by family or friends. Grave's disease in particular produces a protrusion of the eyeball called as exophthalmoses. Grave's disease usually presents with a swelling of the gland which is noticeable as a large swelling in the neck.

What are the complications?

Thyrotoxic crisis is a rare but severe complication of hyperthyroidism, which may occur when a patient becomes very sick or physically stressed. Its symptoms can include: an increase in body temperature to over 40 degrees Celsius, tachycardia, arrhythmia, vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, coma and death.

How is it diagnosed?

A simple blood test is usually all that is necessary to diagnose hyperthyroidism, especially if there are classic symptoms. However if the doctor suspects complications or other causes of hyperthyroidism, he might ask for a radio uptake scan or an ultrasound scan of the thyroid or even a small biopsy of the gland.

How can Hyperthyroidism be treated?

There are drugs which can block the effects of the thyroid hormone, thus providing temporary relief, however they do not address the disease per se. Anti Thyroid Drugs cause reduced production of the thyroid hormone and thus are a good initial therapy for patients. However these drugs can cause side effects, the most important one being reduced immunity, thus patients on such drugs are prone to get infected easily. Radioactive Iodine Treatment is a safe and permanent cure for hyperthyroidism. Patient will have to be on lifelong thyroid hormone which is safe and free of side effects. Surgical removal of the thyroid gland is another permanent treatment option for hyperthyroidism.

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