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What is hyperthyroidism?

Hyperthyroidism is a condition that occurs when the thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone. It can affect all body functions. Causes the body’s normal rate of functioning to speed up. , which results in physical, behavioral, and emotional changes. Uneated hyperthyroidism can lead to serious medical problems. Hypthyroidism cannot be prevented, but it is generally treatable and rarely fatal.

The thyroid gland is butterfly-shaped in the lower part of your neck, in front of your windpipe. The thyroid gland produces hormones that influence other glands and many physiological functions. Thyroid hormones regulate your body’s metabolism, which refers to all the chemical processes that take place in your body. This includes the production of energy and hormones, tissue growth, elimination of waste products, and the distribution of nutrients in the blood.

Your thyroid produces two thyroid hormones: thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). These hormones are secreted into your blood circulation and regulate the function of every cell and tissue in your body. T4 and T3 are necessary for good health, metabolism, and energy level control.

The hypothalamus and pituitary gland in your brain regulate T4 and T3 production. When T4 and T3 levels are low, the hypothalamus produces thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) to signal the pituitary gland to produce thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and vice versa. The TSH travels in the bloodstream and signals the thyroid gland to produce more T4 and T3. When T4 and T3 levels are high, the pituitary gland stops producing TSH.

The different causes of hyperthyroidism are:

  1. Autoimmune –   Grave’s Disease is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism.
  2. Thyroid nodules and abnormal thyroid gland growth can also produce too much thyroid hormone.
  3. A rare cause of hyperthyroidism is from consuming food or medications that contain high levels of iodine.

Risk factors for hyperthyroidism:

  1. Women are more likely to develop hyperthyroidism than men.
  2. A family history of thyroid problems increases your risk, particularly Grave’s Disease.
  3. Presence of another autoimmune disease, such as Type 1 Diabetes or Addison’s Disease.
  4. Smoking cigarettes is associated with an increased likelihood of developing Grave’s Disease.
  5. Stress may also increase the risk of developing hyperthyroidism.

The symptoms of hyperthyroidism are:

  1. Increased heart rate
  2. Increased sweating
  3. Heat intolerance
  4. Generalized itching.
  5. Restlessness
  6. Alteration in sleep pattern
  7. Eye symptoms – itching, grittiness in your eyes, or changes in the appearance of your eyes.

Thyroid storm—The most serious complication of hyperthyroidism is a life-threatening condition called a thyroid storm or thyroid crisis. You should call the emergency medical services in your area if you experience shock and delirium. You may also experience a worsening of hyperthyroidism symptoms, such as abdominal pain, fever, and decreased mental alertness. A thyroid storm occurs when the thyroid gland releases a large amount of thyroid hormone quickly and may occur after a serious infection or stress.

Dr Reena Thomas will help diagnose this condition with a comprehensive medical evaluation and physical examination. She will order blood tests to check your thyroid function and thyroid autoantibodies. She may do an ultrasound of the neck in the office to evaluate your thyroid gland and look for any abnormalities in its structure, such as the presence of any thyroid nodules. She may also order a thyroid uptake scan, which is done by nuclear medicine. This scan can identify how the thyroid gland is functioning and specify areas of overactivity or underactivity. It can also help characterize the functioning of any existing thyroid nodules. She may also refer you for a CT or MRI Scan of the orbits if you have severe or moderately severe Grave’s Ophthalmopathy.

The purpose of treatment for hyperthyroidism is to alleviate symptoms and return your metabolism to normal. The treatment you receive depends on the cause of your condition and the severity of your symptoms.

Dr Thomas will review and discuss the results of all your blood tests and imaging studies and formulate an individualized treatment plan. She will discuss the various treatment options, including antithyroid medications, radioactive iodine, or surgical removal of the thyroid gland. If you receive radioactive iodine treatments or have your thyroid gland removed, you will need to take thyroid hormone replacement therapy lifelong.

Dr Thomas will do a comprehensive medical evaluation and physical examination at your follow-up visits. She will monitor the blood levels of thyroid hormone and help navigate future treatment options for optimal treatment of hyperthyroidism.

At a Glance

Dr. Reena Thomas, MD

  • Dual American board-certified endocrinologist
  • Author of numerous academic and clinic research
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