Hyperthyroidism means overactivity of the thyroid gland, resulting in too much thyroid hormone in the bloodstream. The oversecretion of thyroid hormones leads to overactivity of the body's metabolism.
The following are the most common symptoms of hyperthyroidism. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
- increased perspiration
- thinning of the skin
- fine, brittle hair
- weak muscles, especially in the upper arms and thighs
- shaky hands
- fast heartbeat
- high blood pressure
- increased bowel movements
- weight loss
- sleeping difficulty
- eye sensitivity to light
- irregular menstrual cycle
The symptoms of hyperthyroidism may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.
There are several forms of hyperthyroidism, including:
In addition to a complete medical history and medical examination, diagnostic procedures for hyperthyroidism may include:
- measurement of thyroid hormone in the bloodstream
- thyroid scan - uses a radioactive substance to create an image of the thyroid as it is functioning
Treatment for hyperthyroidism is very specific for each patient. The goal of treatment is to restore the thyroid gland to normal function, producing normal levels of thyroid hormone. Specific treatment for hyperthyroidism will be determined by your physician based on:
- your age, overall health, and medical history
- type of hyperthyroidism
- extent of the disease
- your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
- expectations for the course of the disease
- your opinion or preference
Treatment may include:
- use of antithyroid drugs that help lower the level of thyroid hormones in the blood.
- use of radioactive iodine, in the form of a pill or liquid, which damages thyroid cells so that production of thyroid hormones is slowed down.
- surgery to remove part of the thyroid (the overactive nodule).
- use of beta-blocking agents, which block the action of thyroid hormone on the body (these drugs do not change the levels of thyroid hormone in the blood, but make the patient feel better).