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Hyperthyroidism is a condition, in which thyroid gland is producing too much thyroid hormones. This type of endocrine disorder can have multiple causes, and the most common are Graves’ disease and thyroid gland tumor. It occurs up to ten times more often in women than men. The most common signs and symptoms include muscle weakness, tachycardia, sleep disorders, diarrhea and thyroid enlargement (goiter). However, approximately half of total incidents do not result in any specific symptoms, especially during early phases. Treatment usually involves antithyroid medications, surgery or radioiodine therapy. Without proper treatment it might lead to several dangerous complications, and in extreme cases, it can even be fatal.
Overproduction of thyroid hormones is caused by thyroid gland malfunctions. This gland is located at the front of the neck, and its hormones are controlling multiple important processes inside human body. They adjust metabolism, protein synthesis and tissues development. Obviously, overproduction, as well as insufficiency, of thyroid hormones has bad impact on health. The most devastating complications of this state are heart disorders. Hyperthyroidism is accelerating metabolism, which further results in increased heartbeat, thus it greatly overloads the cardiovascular system.
This type of endocrine disorder is more prevalent in woman than men. It occurs up to ten times more often in females, and it usually affects people between the age of 30-50 years old. Hyperthyroidism opposite disorder, resulting in hormones insufficiency, is hypothyroidism. What is interesting, hyperthyroidism is also present among other animals, especially domestic, like cats and dogs.
Hyperthyroidism causes and symptoms
There are several possible disorders, that result in thyroid hormones overproduction. One of the most common includes Graves’ disease, which is responsible for 50-80% of the worldwide incidents. Another popular cause include thyroid adenoma, which is a tumor of the thyroid gland. Fortunately, it is usually a non-cancerous tumor. Factors increasing the risk of developing this disease include bad diet and genetic background, since this condition tends to run in families.
The most common causes include:
- Graves’ disease
- Thyroid adenoma
- Toxic multinodular goiter
- Prolonged intake or overdose of thyroid hormones
Hyperthyroidism may remain unnoticed, because sometimes it is asymptomatic, especially in early phases. What is more, almost half of total cases do not lead to any specific symptom or sign.
The most popular symptoms include:
- Muscle weakness
- Tachycardia (increased heart rate)
- Sleep disorders
- Thyroid enlargement (Goiter)
- Hands and fingers tremor
Diagnosis and treatment
If there is a suspicion about hyperthyroidism, a specialist is able to recognize it easily. Blood test is the quickest and the most common method to reveal any thyroid hormones abnormalities. Computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging might be done in order to reveal pituitary gland adenoma. Pituitary gland release thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), thus it may cause hyperthyroidism as well. However, those incidents are in vast majority. It needs to be noticed, that recognizing this type of endocrine disorder during pregnancy can be difficult, since thyroid hormones levels are raised naturally during this state.
There are various treatment methods and the course should be adjusted individually. Those methods include beta-blockers, surgery, antithyroid medications and radioiodine therapy (RAI). Without treatment, it can lead to serious consequences, such as pregnancy disorders, heart failure, osteoporosis and even death.