What is the thyroid?
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped endocrine gland usually located in the lower front of the neck below the larynx (the voice box). The thyroid’s job is to make thyroid hormones, which are secreted into the blood and then, carried to every tissue in the body. Thyroid hormone helps the body use energy, stay warm and keep the brain, heart, muscles, and other organs working as they should. The main hormone made by the thyroid is thyroxine, also called T4 because it contains four iodine molecules.
Small amounts of another and more potent thyroid hormone containing three iodine molecules, triiodothyronine (T3) are also made by the thyroid gland. However, most of the T3 in the blood is made from T4 in other body tissues. Thyroid hormones control the way every tissue in your body uses energy. They are essential to help each cell in your body’s tissue and organs work right. For example, thyroid hormone controls the body’s temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, and the rate at which food is turned into energy (metabolism).
What is hyperthyroidism?
The term hyperthyroidism refers to any condition in which there is too much thyroid hormone, produced in the body. In other words, the thyroid gland is overactive. Another term that you might hear for this problem is thyrotoxicosis, which refers to high thyroid hormone levels in the blood stream, irrespective of their source.
Hyperthyroidism is a condition of the thyroid. The thyroid produces tetraiodothyronine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3), which are two primary hormones that control how your cells use energy. Your thyroid gland regulates your metabolism through the release of these hormones. Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid makes too much T4, T3, or both. Diagnosis of overactive thyroid and treatment of the underlying cause can relieve symptoms and prevent complications.
What is the Signs and Symptoms of hyperthyroidism?
Thyroid hormone plays a significant role in the pace of many processes in the body. These processes are called your metabolism. If there is too much thyroid hormone, every function of the body tends to speed up. It is not surprising then that some of the symptoms of hyperthyroidism are nervousness, irritability, increased sweating, heart racing, hand tremors, anxiety, difficulty sleeping, thinning of your skin, fine brittle hair and weakness in your muscles—especially in the upper arms and thighs.
You may have more frequent bowel movements, but diarrhea is uncommon. You may lose weight despite a good appetite and, for women, menstrual flow may lighten and menstrual periods may occur less often. Since hyperthyroidism increases your metabolism, many individuals initially have a lot of energy. However, as the hyperthyroidism continues, the body tends to break down. So being, tired is very common. Hyperthyroidism usually begins slowly but in some young patients these changes can be very abrupt.
At first, the symptoms, mistaken for simple nervousness due to stress. If you have been trying to lose weight by dieting, pleased with your success until the hyperthyroidism, which has quickened the weight loss, causes other problems.
Common Signs Seen:
Common complaints include fatigue, heat intolerance, sweating, weight loss despite good appetite, shakiness, inappropriate anxiety, palpitations of the heart, shortness of breath, tetchiness and agitation, poor sleep, thirst, nausea and, increased frequency of defecation. The elderly, complain predominantly of heart problems with a fast or irregular heartbeat, breathlessness and ankle swelling, whereas children tend to hyperactivity, with a short attention span.
Signs include shaky and hot hands, fast or irregular heartbeat, inability to sit still, flushing of the face and upper trunk, fast tendon reflexes, an enlarged thyroid gland and prominent or bulging eyes. Nowadays patients often are diagnosed at an early stage of disease, owing to increased awareness and improved biochemical testing. People who have hyperthyroid symptoms should have their TSH, tested. So go for the test today.
Therefore some patients have relatively few of the classical signs or symptoms. In addition, none of the symptoms or signs just listed is sufficiently sensitive or specific for the diagnosis of hyperthyroidism, even when combined together. Thus, it may take three to six months to diagnose hyperthyroidism, during this time the person can feel very unwell. It is not uncommon for people to worry that they have cancer, because of the associated weight loss.
Other symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:-
- increased appetite
- inability to concentrate
- irregular heartbeat
- difficulty sleeping
- fine, brittle hair
- hair loss
- nausea and vomiting
- breast development in men
- shortness of breath
- loss of consciousness
- fast, irregular heart rate
Hyperthyroidism can also cause atrial fibrillation, a dangerous arrhythmia that can lead to strokes, as well as congestive heart failure.
Concern Your Specialists
There are medications available to immediately treat the symptoms caused by excessive thyroid hormones, such as a rapid heart rate. One of the main classes of drugs used to treat these symptoms is the beta-blockers [for example, propranolol (Inderal), atenolol (Tenormin), metoprolol (Lopressor)].
These medications counteract the effect of thyroid hormone to increase metabolism, but they do not alter the levels of thyroid hormones in the blood. A doctor determines which patients to treat based on a number of variables including the underlying cause of hyperthyroidism, the age of the patient, the size of the thyroid gland, and the presence of coexisting medical illnesses.
Recent studies also have shown that adding a pill of thyroid hormone to the antithyroid medication actually results in higher remission rates. The rationale for this, that by providing an external source for thyroid hormone, higher doses of antithyroid medications, given, which may suppress the overactive immune system in persons with Graves’ disease.
This type of therapy remains controversial, however. When long-term therapy is withdrawn, patients should continue to be, seen by the doctor every three months for the first year, since a relapse of Graves’ disease is most likely in this time period. If a patient does relapse, antithyroid drug therapy, restarted, or radioactive iodine or surgery, considered.