Hyperthyroidism


Chest | Endocrinology and Metabolism | Hyperthyroidism (Disease)


Description

Hyperthyroidism is a condition in which an overactive thyroid gland is producing an excessive amount of thyroid hormones that circulate in the blood.

Hyperthyroidism is suggested by several signs and symptoms; however, patients with mild disease usually experience no symptoms. In patients older than 70 years, the typical signs and symptoms also may be absent. In general, the symptoms become more obvious as the degree of hyperthyroidism increases. The symptoms usually are related to an increase in the metabolic rate of the body.

Common symptoms include: excessive sweating, heat intolerance, increased bowel movements, tremor (usually fine shaking), nervousness; agitation, rapid heart rate, weight loss, fatigue, decreased concentration , irregular and scant menstrual flow

In older patients, irregular heart rhythms and heart failure can occur. In its most severe form, untreated hyperthyroidism may result in thyroid storm, a condition involving high blood pressure, fever, and heart failure. Mental changes, such as confusion and delirium, also may occur.

Causes and Risk factors

Essentially, all cells in the body will respond to increases in thyroid hormone with an increase in the rate at which they conduct their business. Graves disease, which is caused by a generalized overactivity of the thyroid gland, is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism. In this condition, the thyroid gland usually is renegade, which means it has lost the ability to respond to the normal control by the pituitary gland via TSH.

Graves disease is hereditary and is up to five times more common among women than men. Graves disease is thought to be an autoimmune disease, and antibodies that are characteristic of the illness may be found in the blood. These antibodies include thyroid stimulating immunoglobulin (TSI antibodies), thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPO), and TSH receptor antibodies.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Graves disease can be diagnosed by a standard, nuclear medicine thyroid scan which shows diffusely increased uptake of a radioactively-labeled iodine. In addition, a blood test may reveal elevated TSI levels.

Several treatments for hyperthyroidism exist. The best approach for you depends on your age, physical condition and the severity of your disorder: radioactive iodine, anti-thyroid medications, beta blockers or surgery. ...