#HealthBytes: What are the causes, symptoms, medication, treatment of hyperthyroidism?
The thyroid is a small gland located at the front of the neck that produces tetraiodothyronine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) hormones in the body. Hyperthyroidism is a condition that happens due to an over-functioning thyroid gland, wherein too much of T4, T3, or both get produced. This article looks at the causes, symptoms, medication and treatment for this common disorder.
Hyperthyroidism can be caused due to several reasons
Graves' disease, an autoimmune disorder that most commonly occurs in women, is the main cause for hyperthyroidism. It is also worth noting that the disease runs in families and may be passed on genetically. Other causes of hyperthyroidism include viral thyroiditis, excess intake of iodine through dietary supplements or medication, an overdose of thyroxine, functional thyroid adenoma and toxic multinodular goitre.
The symptoms vary in individuals, based on its severity
Hyperthyroidism in elderly patients can manifest in the form of irregular heartbeats and palpitation. Delirium, confusion, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure and osteoporosis are other symptoms exhibited in severe cases of hyperthyroidism in the elderly. In adults, the common symptoms are intolerance to heat, restlessness, anxiety, tremors, weight loss, excessive sweating, heavy menstrual flow, reduced attention span, thyroid swelling and low cholesterol.
Blood tests and scans are carried out in the diagnosis
Blood investigations to detect the levels of T3, T4 and TSH are used to determine hyperthyroidism. As the condition causes an increased metabolism leading to low cholesterol levels, your doctor might also suggest a lipid profile test. In addition, ultrasound of the neck helps in detecting changes in the thyroid tissue. However, in advanced cases, MRI and CT scans are also advised.
Treatment includes radio-iodine therapy and anti-thyroid drugs
Treatment and medications for hyperthyroidism vary from person to person. An oral prescription of radioactive Iodine, followed by thyroxine, may be prescribed by the doctor. In other cases, a group of drugs called thionamides, that inhibit the production of the thyroid peroxidase enzyme, may be advised. These drugs are also used to treat cases of intrathyroidal inflammation, seen in cases of thyroiditis.