Hyperactive thyroid is a condition in which a thyroid gland produces too much of the thyroid hormone. This condition is also known under the name Hyperthyroidism. Thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the neck, interior to the thyroid cartilage and at approximately the same level as the cricoid cartilage. This gland is one of the largest endocrine glands, and a very important one. It produces the hormones that regulate the pace at which the body uses the energy, makes the proteins, and controls how sensitive the body should be to other hormones. The thyroid gland also produces calcitonin, a hormone that plays an important role in calcium homeostasis.
Symptoms of hyperactive thyroid
Patients suffering from the hyperactive thyroid gland usually have many different symptoms, which can easily be contributed to other health problems. This disease is in many cases very hard to diagnose.
Among the most prominent symptoms of hyperthyroidism is an unexpected weight loss, even if the patient’s diet habits remain unchanged. In some cases, even the appetite is visibly increased. Patients with the hyperactive thyroid gland usually have rapid heartbeats of more than 100 beats per minute, often accompanied with arrhythmia. In most cases, an enlarged thyroid gland will be observable as a swelling at the base of the neck. Patients usually sweat a lot, they have trembling in hands and fingers, they feel tired and fatigued and still experience troubles with falling asleep. Women with a hyperactive thyroid gland can have changes in menstrual patterns.
In some cases, signs of hyperthyroidism are various ocular changes such as eyelid retraction, extra-ocular muscle weakness and lid-lag. Eyelid retraction is easy to spot as it manifests in a condition where the "white" of the eye begins at the upper border of the iris.
Causes of hyperactive thyroid
There are several known causes of hyperthyroidism. In most cases, hyperthyroidism occurs when the entire gland is overproducing the hormone. This condition is known as the Graves’ disease. It is an autoimmune disease where the overactive thyroid gland produces an excessive amount of hormones. This is caused by the antibodies, which activate the thyroid-stimulating hormone receptor, stimulating the production and secretion of hormone. At the same time, thyroid gland will grow, causing a diffusely enlarged goiter.
In other cases, a single node that is responsible for excess hormone production causes hyperthyroidism. These “hot nodes” are parts of the gland that have walled themselves off from the rest of the gland. They form noncancerous lumps, which can cause the enlargement of the thyroid gland.