Hyperthyroidism is the presence and production of too much of either or both of the thyroid hormones triiodothyronine (T-4) and thyroxine (T-3) in the body. It is caused by several illnesses. A main cause of hyperthyroidism is Grave’s Disease, a condition that frequently is diagnosed by evaluating thyroid hormones. Myasthenia gravis, an autoimmune disease that causes bouts of muscle weakness may also result in hyperthyroidism. Another cause of hyperthyroidism is Toxic nodular goiter, which enlarges the thyroid gland, resulting in increased production.
Some early symptoms of hyperthyroidism may include weight loss, significant increase in appetite, and difficulty regulating mood with fluctuations between irritability and depression. As well those affected with hyperthyroidism may feel hyperactive. They may also experience profuse perspiration, feel fatigued or weak, and have arrhythmias.
Occasionally, hyperthyroidism will reduce sexual drive. It is also indicated in persistent vomiting or nausea. Also, those affected may experience significant muscle pains.
Those affected by hyperthyroidism may pass a high volume of urine, called polyuria, which means frequent bathroom trips. People might also feel a pounding heartbeat and/or shortness of breath, mimicking a panic attack. Hyperthyroidism is indicated in alopecia, otherwise known as hair loss on the scalp.
Severe complications of hyperthyroidism may include life-threatening arrhythmias, and stroke. Chorea, which is the involuntary movement of the extremities might be present. Those who have been affected by hyperthyroidism for a long period of time can suffer from intense tremors and shakiness throughout the body. Occasionally, hyperthyroidism is diagnosed by a patient’s unexplained paralysis.
Hyperthyroidism has several notable ocular effects. When people are awake, their eyelids can be opened wider than normal, causing a staring or frightened look to the eyes. They also may suffer lid-lag, which does not allow a person to track the downward movement of objects.
Not all symptoms appear in all people affected with hyperthyroidism. The symptoms can often appear to suggest other diseases. However, diagnosis is generally simple, involving a blood test to count T-3 and T-4, and to evaluate thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH).
In many cases treatment is destruction of the thyroid gland through radiation. This treatment is extremely effective, though it may not end all symptoms of causal autoimmune disorders. Those with goiter, and Grave’s disease are likely to see a significant reduction in symptoms or their complete disappearance. Ironically, perhaps, destruction of the thyroid gland often means a person will become hypothyroid, and may need to take T-3 and T-4 supplements after the procedure.