The thyroid is one of the glands in the body that is very important for the functioning of the whole body. It is placed in the neck and produces two hormones, tyroxine and triidotyroxine. Hyperthyroidism, generally known as overactive thyroid, is the medical term for the condition characterized by the increased production of the hormone tyroxine by the thyroid gland. Hyperthyroidism is a serious condition because it affects the whole metabolism by accelerating it. This disorder is more common in women then in men.
Causes and symptoms of hyperthyroidism
The major causes of hyperthyroidism are Graves’ disease, toxic nodular goiter, thyroiditis or the inflamed thyroid gland, tumor of the pituitary gland and some medications that contain much iodine. Hyperthyroidism can be very hard to diagnose, because it has symptoms that are common for other diseases as well. The most frequent symptoms are unexplained loss of weight despite the good and increased appetite, nervousness, anxiety, irritability, as well as tremor, sweating, sleeplessness, fatigue, and muscle weakness.
Additionally, the person who suffers from hyperthyroidism may have some problems with the heart, such as tachycardia, arrhythmia and heart palpitations. Moreover, an enlarged thyroid gland is also one of the warning signs of this condition. There are cases when changes in menstrual and bowel patters also appear.
Treatment of hyperthyroidism
The treatment of hyperthyroidism usually includes treating the symptoms, taking antithyroid medications, radioactive iodine and surgery for the treatment of the symptoms of hyperthyroidism. To treat the symptoms of hyperthyroidism, the doctors usually prescribe certain medications that are very potent in reducing the symptoms, such as beta-blockers: propranolol, atenolol and metoprolol. They slow down the metabolism, but do not change the level of thyroid hormones in the blood.
Antithyroid drugs such as methimazole and propylthiouracil tend to build up in the thyroid tissue and obstruct production of thyroid hormones. The possible side effect of these medicines is suppression of production of white blood cells by the bone marrow. If some other severe side effects appear while using these two drugs, the patient should stop using them and consult the doctor.
Radioactive iodine is taken orally to ablate a hyperactive gland. The radioactive iodine is only picked up by the active cells in the thyroid, thus eliminating them. Surgery to partially remove the thyroid gland or tissue that produces the excessive thyroid hormones is recommended for pregnant women, children that are allergic to the hyperthyroidism drugs, and those who have large thyroid gland.