Hyperactive Thyroid

diet-for-hypothyroidismHyperactive thyroid syndrome is a metabolic condition that is characterized with an overactive thyroid gland thus increasing the secretion of thyroid hormone, which regulates the metabolic rate of the body. Hyperactive thyroid syndrome hastens the process of each function in the body, resulting in unexplained weight loss and less frequent or light menstrual periods in women. These two conditions are more common in women than other symptoms. Read on to learn about the signs and symptoms, causes and complications of hyperactive thyroid.

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Symptoms of hyperactive thyroid

An overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) can generally present with many signs and symptoms, and all of them can’t be developed by each patient. Some of the common symptoms of hyperthyroidism or hyperactive thyroid include:

  • Hyperactivity
  • Extreme mood swings including irritability, anxiety, and nervousness
  • Sleeping difficulty (insomnia)
  • muscle weakness
  • feeling tiresome all the time (fatigue)
  • frequent urge to pass stools or urine
  • diarrhea
  • sensitivity to heat
  • excess fat in the stools(steatorrhoea), often making them greasy and difficulty in flushing down the toilet
  • Excess sweating
  • Cessation of menstrual periods
  • Infrequent or light menstrual  periods
  • infertility
  • lack of sex drive
  • unexplained or unintentional weight loss, despite having a healthy appetite
  • Few cases can present with significant weight gain with increase in appetite.
  • Diabetic patients tend to develop aggravation of symptoms like tiredness and extreme thirst that get worse due to hyperthyroidism.

Signs of hyperactive thyroid

Some of the following physical signs can be noticed in case of hyperactive thyroid as follows:

  • Significant swelling in front of the neck due to the enlargement of thyroid gland (goitre)
  • Unusually fast or irregular heart rate
  • Warm and moist skin
  • Trembling or shaking of hands and fingers (tremor)
  • Separation of nails from their nail beds
  • Redness of the palms and hands
  • Itchy skin (urticaria)with raised itchy rashes or swellings
  • Patchy hair loss (alopecia)
  • Twitching of the face and limbs
  • Fatigue
  • Concentration difficulty
  • Frequent bowel movements
  • thyroid nodules or enlarged thyroid gland(Goiter)
  • Heat sensitivity
  • Increased appetite
  • Nervousness
  • Irregular menstrual periods
  • Restlessness
  • Breast development in men
  • Hair loss
  • Clammy skin
  • High blood pressure
  • Overall Itching
  • Completely ceased menstrual periods
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Pounding, irregular or rapid pulse
  • Protrusion of eyes (exophthalmos)
  • Irregular, forceful, and rapid heartbeat (palpitations)
  • Sleeping difficulty
  • Skin blushing or flushing
  • Weakness

Causes of hyperactive thyroid

The thyroid gland is an essential endocrine organ in the system. It is situated just below the voice box in front of the neck. It’s main function is to produce the triiodothyronine (T3)andthyroxine (T4) hormones, which regulate the utilization of energy by each cell in the body, a process termed as metabolism. Hyperactive thyroid is associated with excessive production of hormones by the thyroid over a short (acute) or long (chronic) period of time. This condition can be caused or triggered by many diseases and conditions as follows:

  • Excessive intake of dietary iodine
  • Graves’ disease that accounts for about 90 percent of cases with hyperthyroidism
  • Noncancerous growths of the pituitary gland or thyroid gland
  • Some tumors of the testes or ovaries
  • Inflammation (thyroiditis) of the thyroid caused by viral infections or other causes
  • Excessive dose of thyroid hormone

Investigations

  • Physical examination can be done which may reveal:
    • Hyperactive reflexes
    • High systolic blood pressure
    • Thyroid enlargement
    • Increased heart rate
    • Tremor
    • Subclinical hyperthyroidism is involves mild, hyperactive thyroid that presents with abnormal blood levels of thyroid hormones, and without any specific symptoms.
    • Blood tests are performed to determine the levels of thyroid hormones.
      • Thyroid function tests
      • TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) level reveals low levels
      • Abnormally high T3 and free T4 levels
      • Glucose test
      • Cholesterol test
      • Radioactive iodine uptake

Treatment of hyperactive thyroid

The treatment for hyperactive thyroid depends on the severity of symptoms and the main cause. Hyperactive thyroid normally requires treatment with one or more medications as follows:

  • Anti thyroid medications like radioactive iodine that ceases overproduction of hormones by destroying the thyroid gland.
  • Cardiovascular symptoms of hyperactive thyroid such as sweating, rapid heart rate, and anxiety can be controlled with beta-blocker drugs such as propranolol.
  • Surgical excision of thyroid is a commonly preferred treatment in thyroid cancer, followed with the destruction of the whole gland with radiation,which requires administration of thyroid hormone replacement drugs throughout life.

Prognosis

  • Hyperactive thyroid condition can be treated and can rarely prove fatal.
  • Most of its symptoms subside with an appropriate treatment.
  • Hyperactive thyroid caused by Graves’ disease can gradually worsen over time as it can lead to several complications that may be severe and affect routine life.

Complications