Causes and symptoms of hyperthyroidism

Causes and symptoms of hyperthyroidism

The thyroid gland, named by Thomas Wharton in 431 BC, is an endocrine gland. It is found at the front of the neck below Adam’s apple and consists of two lobes connected by an isthmus. Three hormones are secreted by the thyroid gland. They are thyroxin (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) and calcitonin. These hormones influence protein synthesis and metabolic rate. When the gland produces an excessive amount of hormones, it is called hyperthyroidism. When there is insufficient thyroid hormone produced, it is called hypothyroidism.

Causes of hyperthyroidism
When the thyroid makes too much T4 and T3 or both, hyperthyroidism occurs. When overactive thyroid is diagnosed and treatment is given, it can relieve symptoms and also prevent complications. There are various reasons and conditions that can cause hyperthyroidism. The most common cause is an auto-immune disorder known as Grave’s disease. In this case, the thyroid is stimulated by antibodies to secrete excessive hormones. Hyperthyroidism is found more in women than in men. A genetic link could also be a strong reason.

Hyperthyroidism could be caused by other factors, including

  • Excessive iodine content, which is a key ingredient in T4 and T3.
  • An inflammation of the thyroid known as thyroiditis, caused by the leakage of T4 and T3 from the gland.
  • Presence of ovarian and testes tumors.
  • Tumors in the pituitary gland or thyroid gland that is benign.
  • Excessive intake of tetraiodothyronine through dietary supplements or medication.

A very high metabolic rate is caused due to the excessive amount of T4, T3 or both and is called a hypermetabolic state. In this condition rapid heartbeat, elevated blood pressure and hand tremors may be experienced. They will also be a low tolerance to heat and excessive sweating. Frequent bowel movements and weight loss can also be caused by hyperthyroidism. Menstrual cycles are irregular in women who suffer from hyperthyroidism. The thyroid itself could swell into a goiter.

Common symptoms of hyperthyroidism would be

  • Constant hunger or increased appetite.
  • anxiety or nervousness
  • feeling of restlessness
  • lack of concentration
  • general body weakness
  • palpitation or irregular heartbeat
  • insomnia or difficulty in sleeping
  • fine and brittle hair prone to easy breakage
  • excessive hair fall
  • skin ailments such as itching
  • vomiting and feeling of nausea
  • Development of breast in men.

Atrial fibrillation, a dangerous arrhythmia can be caused by hyperthyroidism which can lead to strokes or even to congestive heart failure. Too much thyroid hormone can interfere with the ability of the body to incorporate calcium into the bone causing weak and brittle bones (osteoporosis). A bulging red or swollen eye, double vision or vision that is sensitive to light develop due to Grave’s disease caused by hyperthyroidism. A suddenly intensified symptom leading to fever, rapid pulse and even delirium known as thyrotoxic crisis is a symptom of hyperthyroidism.

Symptoms of hyperthyroidism in people over age 60, is sometimes mistaken for dementia or depression. Older adults face different symptoms than younger adults such as loss of appetite and societal withdrawal. It is advisable to discuss such symptoms with a healthcare professional to identify and treat hyperthyroidism in time.

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