Facts about Hyperthyroidism
When we hear the word or the condition “hyperthyroidism”, we automatically associate it to goiter, Adam’s apple, an enlarged neck and too much Iodine. But that’s just the tip of an iceberg. There are many things about hyperthyroidism unknown to most of us and it’s good to know even just the basics because we’ll never know how or when this complication will hit us.
WHAT IS HYPERTHYROIDISM?
Hyperthyroidism is also known as overactive thyroid. It is a medical condition that is caused by an abnormally high level of thyroid hormone in the blood stream. It is the thyroid gland that produces an excessive amount of thyroid hormones in the bloodstream and this is caused by several factors.
A known fact, the thyroid gland is a small, butterfly-shaped gland located in the neck. It is the part of our body responsible for controlling how our cells use energy, especially in relation to the body’s growth and metabolism by producing thyroid hormones. These hormones are tetraiodothyronine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3).
As mentioned earlier, when the thyroid gland produces too much of these T4 and T4 hormones, they become overactive, hence hyperthyroidism.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE HYPERTHYROIDISM?
Sometimes, you will have no symptoms at all and your doctor may found out that you have hyperthyroidism while conducting tests for other conditions. However, there are many symptoms you can still watch out for:
· Swelling gland
· Acceperated blood pressure
· Hair loss (in patches)
· Nausa and vomiting
· Sudden weight loss or weight gain
· Feelings of nervousness
· Feelings of moodiness and irritability
· Difficulty in sleeping
· General body weakness
· Itchy and red skin, especially the palms
· More bowel movements than usual
· Problems in breathing
HOW IS IT DIAGNOSED?
As mentioned earlier, one may not have a single symptom but still has the condition. However, these are the commonly performed tests by physicians to find out if you potentially have hyperthyroidism or not.
T4 and T3 Tests — to find out how much thyroid hormone you have in your blood
TSH Level Test — a test in the amount of TSH hormones. TSH is a hormone produced by the hypothalamus that controls the thyroid gland’s production of thyroid hormones.
Cholesterol and Triglyceride Level Test
Since one of the functions of thyroid hormones is controlling the body’s metabolism, cholesterol and triglyceride tests are important since these levels almost always vary with the metabolic rate. In hyperthyroidism, cholesterol and triglyceride levels can be low due to an increased metabolic rate.
Ultrasound — since one of the symptoms of hyperthyroidism is a visibly enlarged thyroid gland, an ultrasound can be used to measure the size of the entire thyroid gland along with any masses in it. Moreover, an ultrasound can determine whether the mass is solid or cystic.
CT Scan or MRI — only if a potential pituitary tumor is suspected
SO WHAT IF THERE’S TOO MUCH OF THESE HORMONES?
Hyperthyroidism, albeit a simple-sounding condition, can lead to serious problems in the heart, bones, and the thyroid when not treated. A more dangerous problem is a condition called thyroid storm, which can be potentially life-threatening. Given the name, thyroid storm, it happens when the thyroid gland releases too much T3 and T4 in an abnormally short phase. It is more likely to happen if the person who has hyperthyroidism simultaneously has a serious heart problem.
Moreover, people with hyperthyroidism may suddenly lose or gain weight and if not treated immediately, can cause to obesity or malnutrition. They will also have an unusually fast heartbeat and often feel nervous and moody. A visibly enlarged thyroid gland is also one obvious symptom and effect at the same time, but the more serious case is when you don’t show these kinds of symptoms at all.
TREAT HYPERTHYROIDISM AT ONCE
Bottomline is that a person who is diagnosed with hyperthyroidism should be treated at once as it may lead to more serious related conditions like thyroid storm and Grave’s disease. The good news is that hyperthyroidism can be treated with antithyroid drugs. Antithyroid drugs can stop the thyroid gland from producing excess amounts of T3 and T4.