Hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid, is a health issue that causes the thyroid gland to produce excess amounts of hormones. The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped organ found in the center of the neck which releases hormones, such as triiodothyronine (T3) and tetraiodothyronine (T4), that regulate breathing, heart rate, temperature, and metabolism, among other bodily functions. Hyperthyroidism can cause bodily functions to speed up which may result in a variety of symptoms, including irregular heartbeat and weight loss. In the following article, we will discuss hyperthyroidism or an overactive thyroid.
What are the Causes of Hyperthyroidism?
The thyroid gland produces hormones, such as triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine or tetraiodothyronine (T4), which control nearly all cells and tissues in the human body. These two primary thyroid hormones regulate heart rate, temperature, and metabolism or the rate at which carbohydrates and fats are used to produce energy. The thyroid gland also releases a hormone that regulates calcium, or calcitonin, in the bloodstream. The thyroid gland generally produces and releases the right amount of hormones in the human body, however, a variety of health issues can cause hyperthyroidism or an overactive thyroid.
Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disorder that causes antibodies produced by the immune system to stimulate the thyroid gland to release excess amounts of hormones. This health issue is one of the most common causes of hyperthyroidism or an overactive thyroid. Graves’ disease is believed to be a genetic disorder that occurs more often in women than in men. Graves’ ophthalmopathy is a rare problem that can make a person’s eyeballs protrude beyond their normal protective orbits due to the swelling of the muscles behind the eyes. This health issue occurs more often in people who smoke.
Plummer’s disease is another type of hyperthyroidism that occurs when one or more adenomas of the thyroid gland produce excess amounts of thyroxine or tetraiodothyronine (T4). An adenoma can ultimately develop benign lumps which may enlarge the thyroid gland. Occasionally, the thyroid gland can become inflamed after pregnancy, generally due to an autoimmune disease or for unknown reasons. Inflammation of the thyroid gland can cause excess hormones to “leak” into the bloodstream. Thyroiditis, or inflammation of the thyroid gland, can cause pain and discomfort. Other causes of hyperthyroidism include:
- excess amounts of iodine
- tumors in the ovaries or testes
- tumors in the thyroid or pituitary gland
- excess amounts of T4 taken from medicines or supplements
What are the Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism?
Hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid, can tremendously increase metabolic rate, also known as a hypermetabolic state. During a hypermetabolic state, people with hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid, can experience increased heart rate and tremors. This health issue may also cause individuals to sweat a lot and develop heat sensitivity or intolerance. It can also cause more frequent bowel movements, weight loss, and irregular menstrual cycles in women. Moreover, the thyroid gland may become visibly swollen and the eyes may appear more prominent. Other symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:
- increased appetite
- nausea and vomiting
- irregular heartbeat
- fine, brittle hair
- hair loss
- inability to concentrate
- difficulty sleeping
- breast development in men
According to healthcare professionals, the following symptoms of hyperthyroidism may ultimately require immediate medical attention, including:
- shortness of breath
- loss of consciousness
- fast, irregular heart rate
- atrial fibrillation or a dangerous arrhythmia
Furthermore, according to healthcare professionals, if hyperthyroidism is left untreated, it can also lead to a variety of complications, including:
- Red, swollen skin: Graves’ dermopathy is a health issue that affects the skin, causing redness and swelling, often on the shins and feet.
- Eye problems: Graves’ ophthalmopathy can cause bulging, red or swollen eyes, sensitivity to light, and blurred or double vision.
- Brittle bones: Hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid, can cause weak, brittle bones, a problem known as osteoporosis. The strength of our bones is associated with our amount of calcium, however, excess amounts of hormones can affect your body’s ability to add calcium into your bones.
- Heart problems: Hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid, can cause rapid heart rate, a heart rhythm disorder, known as atrial fibrillation, that increases the risk of stroke, and congestive heart failure, a condition in which the heart can’t circulate enough blood throughout the body.
- Thyrotoxic crisis: Hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid, can also increase the risk of developing a thyrotoxic crisis, or a sudden intensification of symptoms which may lead to a fever, a rapid pulse, and even delirium. If a thyrotoxic crisis occurs, seek immediate medical attention.
What is the Diagnosis of Hyperthyroidism?
Hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid, is diagnosed based on a patient’s symptoms through a physical evaluation and blood tests utilized to measure thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and thyroid hormone levels. In addition, healthcare professionals may also decide to order diagnostic imaging scans, such as an ultrasound, of the thyroid gland to identify the presence of nodules as well as to determine if it has become inflamed or overactive.
What is the Treatment of Hyperthyroidism?
Hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid, can be treated with antithyroid drugs/medications that affect the production of thyroid hormones. Radioactive iodine therapy may also be utilized to damage the cells and tissues that produce thyroid hormones. In rare cases, surgery may be utilized to remove part of or the entire thyroid gland. Treatment options will depend on the severity and underlying cause of symptoms. Doctors may also prescribe beta-blockers to block the effects of thyroid hormones. Hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid, may also improve with proper diet and lifestyle modifications.
Thyroid dysfunction can ultimately cause a variety of health issues, including hyperthyroidism. Hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid, is a health issue that causes the thyroid gland to produce excess amounts of hormones. The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped organ found in the center of the neck which releases hormones, such as triiodothyronine (T3) and tetraiodothyronine (T4), that regulate breathing, heart rate, temperature, and metabolism, among other bodily functions. Hyperthyroidism can cause bodily functions to speed up which may result in a variety of symptoms, including irregular heartbeat and weight loss. In the following article, we will describe hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid, and discuss the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment.
Dr. Alex Jimenez D.C., C.C.S.T. Insight
Hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid, is a health issue that causes the thyroid gland to produce excess amounts of hormones. The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped organ found in the center of the neck which releases hormones, such as triiodothyronine (T3) and tetraiodothyronine (T4), that regulate breathing, heart rate, temperature, and metabolism, among other bodily functions. Hyperthyroidism can cause bodily functions to speed up which may result in a variety of symptoms, including irregular heartbeat and weight loss. In the article above, we will discuss hyperthyroidism or an overactive thyroid.
The scope of our information is limited to chiropractic, musculoskeletal, and nervous health issues or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions. We use functional health protocols to treat injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Our office has made a reasonable attempt to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We also make copies of supporting research studies available to the board and or the public upon request. To further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900.
Curated by Dr. Alex Jimenez
- Lights, Verneda, et al. “Hyperthyroidism.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 29 June 2016, www.healthline.com/health/hyperthyroidism.
- Mayo Clinic Staff. “Hyperthyroidism (Overactive Thyroid).” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 7 Jan. 2020, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hyperthyroidism/symptoms-causes/syc-20373659.
- Aleppo, Grazia. “Hyperthyroidism Overview.” EndocrineWeb, EndocrineWeb Media, 10 July 2019, www.endocrineweb.com/conditions/hyperthyroidism/hyperthyroidism-overview-overactive-thyroid.
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