Irregular heartbeat, sweating, irritability and unexplained weight loss are all signs and symptoms of hyperthyroidism.
This condition accelerates your body’s metabolism significantly. Excess iodine in your body can lead to hyperthyroidism.
Hyperthyroidism occurs when your thyroid gland releases too much hormone. The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland situated in the front part of your neck, precisely below Adam’s apple.
The hormones secreted by the thyroid gland controls the metabolism of the body and how the body uses energy. Read on to know more about hyperthyroidism signs and symptoms.
According to a 2014 study conducted in Curie Manavata Cancer Centre in Nashik, Maharashtra, the prevalence of thyroid disorders among 16,933 patients analyzed was 0.8%. The following are the results from the same study.
- Thyroid disorders were more prevalent among women, affecting 66.4% when compared to men (33.6%)
- Thyroid disorders are more prevalent in the age group of 30 to 70 years.
The Importance Of Thyroid Glands
The thyroid gland produces two primary hormones namely tetraiodothyronine (T4) and Triiodothyronine (T3).
These two hormones govern how the cells use energy. The metabolism of the body depends on how much of these hormones are released.
Apart from metabolism, the thyroid hormones have the following functions:
- Maintaining the heart rate
- Functioning of other prime organs
- Maintenance of bone health
- The smooth functioning of the menstrual cycle
- Maintaining the muscle metabolism
Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland secretes too much of T3 hormone or T4 hormone or both.
Excess production of the hormones will speed up all the metabolic processes that are aided by the thyroid hormones. The intensity of symptoms depends on the amount of T3 and T4 hormones secreted.
The hormone called Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) produced by the pituitary gland has an important role in the production of T3 and T4. As the name suggests, TSH stimulates or activates the thyroid gland to produce T3 and T4 hormones.
When the levels of T3 and T4 are normal, the TSH level is maintained low. An abnormally low level of TSH indicates hyperthyroidism or high secretions of T3 and T4.
An abnormally high level of TSH indicated hypothyroidism or low secretion of T3 and T4. This is the most common method of hyperthyroidism diagnosis.
The below table represents the optimal level of all the three thyroid hormones in a normal person and in people suffering from hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.
|TSH Level (in milliunits per litre)
|Free T3 Levels (in pmol per litre)
|Free T4 Levels (in pmol per litre)
|0.4 to 4
|3.0 to 6.0
|12.0 to 22.0
|Lesser than 0.4
|More than 6.0
|More than 22.0
|More than 4
|Less than 3.0
|Less than 12.0
Hyperthyroidism test involves the measurement of all the three thyroid hormones and sometimes additional factors such as Thyroid antibodies (TPO), Total T3 and Total T4.
The Causes Of Hyperthyroidism
Hyperthyroidism occurs due to a host of factors.
Among the most common causes is Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disorder in which antibodies released by the body stimulate the thyroid gland to produce too much thyroid hormones.
Graves’ disease runs in the family and has a genetic link.
The other common causes of hyperthyroidism include:
1. Excess iodine in the body which is a prime ingredient in T3 and T4 hormones
2. Tumours in the ovaries or testes
3. Thyroiditis, a condition in which the thyroid gland is inflamed and as a result of the thyroid hormones T3 and T4 leak from the gland
4. Benign tumours in the thyroid or pituitary gland
5. Large amounts of tetraiodothyronine in the body that accumulates from the supplements or other medication.
Hyperthyroidism is a condition that can be managed through the life with right diet and exercises.
Hyperthyroidism natural treatment has shown promising results with some patients.
For a peek into Indhumati’s journey of tackling thyroid disorder and associated weight issues, click here.
Common signs and symptoms of hyperthyroidism
The excess secretion of thyroid hormones, T3 and T4 lead to a high metabolic rate. When metabolism speeds up in the body, it enters a hypermetabolic state. The heart beats faster and as a result, there is an elevation in the blood pressure. A hyperthyroid patient may experience profuse sweating and will always have a very low tolerance towards heat.
When you are suffering from this disorder, you can suffer from any or all of the following signs and symptoms of hyperthyroidism:
- Hand tremors due to rapid heart rate
- Rapid and unplanned weight loss
- Frequent bowel movements
- Irregular menstrual cycle
- Visible swelling of the thyroid gland
- Bulging of the eyes and more protrusion when compared to the normal position (Exophthalmos)
- The swelling of the thyroid gland can either be symmetrical or one-sided.
What happens when you show signs and symptoms of hyperthyroidism
When you suffer from this disorder, your body experiences many drastic changes. Keep a watch for the following:
- Increase in appetite
- Nervousness and anxiousness that occur unnecessarily
- Poor concentration skills
- Restlessness all through the day
- Weakness and fatigue even after a good rest
- Insomnia and difficulty in sleeping
- Irregular heartbeat
- Excessive itching of the skin
- Sudden excessive hair loss
- Change in the texture of the hair which turns fine and brittle
- Mild breast development in men
- Frequent nausea which may occur together with vomiting at times
When should you go see the doctor
If you are to experience the following signs and symptoms of hyperthyroidism you will need immediate medical attention:
- Frequent dizziness
- Loss of consciousness often
- Very fast heart rate
- Shortness of breath
All the symptoms mentioned above can be counted as hyperthyroidism symptoms in men. Recent research suggests that osteoporosis is common among hyperthyroid patients.
Another research also throws light on the prevalence of clinical ocular features among children and young adults with thyroid diseases.
When hyperthyroidism is left untreated for long, it may lead to a condition known as atrial fibrillation. It is a form of arrhythmia that is quite dangerous and can lead to strokes and sometimes heart failure.
Is Graves’ disease the same as hyperthyroidism?
Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disorder that can lead to the condition called hyperthyroidism. Graves’ disease occurs when the antibodies in your body act against your own cells and organs.
Is Graves dermopathy common is all hyperthyroid patients?
Graves’ dermopathy is a disorder in which the skin becomes red and swollen. It occurs when Graves’ disease is the underlying cause of a very active thyroid
Is thyroid scan required for the diagnosis of hyperthyroidism?
In some cases, thyroid scan may be required by doctors if the entire gland or just a segment of it is causing excess secretion of hormones.
When is a CT or MRI scan used for diagnosing thyroid disorders?
A CT or MRI scan is used when the doctor suspects a tumour in the pituitary gland.
Are there diet restrictions for hyperthyroidism?
Yes. The diet restrictions for hyperthyroidism are minor and not extensive.
Click here to know more on hyperthyroidism diet and ways to tackle weight issues related to the condition.