Hyperthyroidism: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments
Overactive thyroid – or hyperthyroidism – is a condition in which the thyroid gland makes more hormones than the body actually needs. This disease, if left unaddressed, can lead to a wide range of health issues, including those affecting the muscles, bones, and heart. It can also have a negative impact on fertility. At Chesapeake Ear Nose & Throat in Baltimore, MD, our highly trained specialists offer treatment for hyperthyroidism that is tailored to the needs of the individual. We will always exhaust more conservative methods first and carefully educate patients on all of their options.
Thyroid hormones affect nearly every system in the body, from cardiovascular and skeletal to reproductive.
Hyperthyroidism can manifest in a number of ways. Some of the most common symptoms associated with the condition include:
- Irregular or rapid heartbeat
- Irritability or mood swings
- Nervousness or anxiety
- Increased appetite
- Unintentional weight loss
- Muscle weakness
- Inability to tolerate hot temperatures
- Tremors or shaky hands
- Goiter, or swelling around the base of the neck
- Brittle hair
- Thin skin
- Fluctuations in the menstrual cycle
In addition to these symptoms, it is not uncommon for individuals to notice changes in the way things taste or smell. If you discern any of these warning signs, it is a good idea to schedule a consultation with your physician.
There are several treatments available for those with hyperthyroidism, many of which involve conservative approaches.
What Causes the Condition?
There are several reasons why hyperthyroidism may develop. This condition can be caused by:
- Overactive thyroid nodules: As individuals grow older, they are at a higher risk for thyroid nodules, which are small bumps on the thyroid gland. These nodules are typically benign. However, if they become overactive, they can produce an excessive amount of hormones.
- Graves’ disease: An autoimmune disorder, Graves’ disease is a condition in which the immune system attacks the thyroid gland. As a result, the thyroid produces too much thyroid hormone.
- Thyroiditis: Characterized by inflammation of the thyroid gland, this condition often leads to months of hyperthyroidism followed by hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid. In most instances, the hypothyroidism lasts about a year to a year and a half – although there may be cases in which it lasts indefinitely.
- Too much iodine: Iodine is a necessary mineral, and the thyroid gland uses it to produce hormone. However, consuming large amounts of iodine can lead to an overactive thyroid.
- Improper dosage of hormone drugs: Those with hypothyroidism often take medication to regulate hormone production. However, if the dosage is too high, it could cause the adverse effect. That is why routine checkups are so important.
Hyperthyroidism Treatment Options
Fortunately, there are several treatments available for those with hyperthyroidism. These include:
- Anti-thyroid medications: These drugs can successfully reduce the amount of hormone produced by the thyroid gland.
- Radioactive iodine: Taken in pill form, radioactive iodine is absorbed by the thyroid, causing it to shrink.
- Beta blockers: Commonly used in the treatment of hypertension, beta blockers can also help reduce certain symptoms of hyperthyroidism, including heart palpitations, rapid heart rate, and tremors.
- Surgical intervention: Though rarely necessary, surgery can be performed to remove a large portion of the thyroid gland. This option is typically pursued when a patient is pregnant, or does not wish to take radioactive iodine or anti-thyroid drugs. Those who undergo this procedure will need to take levothyroxine daily in pill form to maintain healthy hormone levels.
During a consultation at our practice, our doctors will review your health history in detail. This will help us determine which treatment option will be most effective for you.
Contact Chesapeake Ear Nose & Throat
Chesapeake Ear Nose & Throat has been proudly serving our community for over 25 years. To learn more about hyperthyroidism and its effects, schedule a consultation at our practice online or call (410) 356-2626. We accept most types of insurance and offer a number of payment plans, including CareCredit® financing.