Thyroid is a gland situated in the base of the neck and is the largest gland in the body. The function of the thyroid gland is to secrete hormones which travel in the body and regulate the activities of the body, like the burning of calories and metabolism. These hormones control the rate of these activities. Any abnormality will result in slowing down or fastening of activities.
When the rate of activities fastens, the condition is known as Hyperthyroidism.
Hyperthyroid is a very common condition which affects more women than men. In hyperthyroidism, due to some disorder thyroid nodules or swellings appear at the base of the neck and as a result more thyroid hormones are secreted from these nodules. Consequently the rate of metabolism increases.
An overactive thyroid gland starts producing excess hormones resulting in speeding up of other activities which are regulated by these hormones.
The causes of Hyperthyroidism include:
The primary cause of Hyperthyroidism is Graves’ disease which is an auto immune disorder or in other words ‘self acquired’ within the body where the body’s own defence system starts attacking its own healthy cells by mistake. Here the thyroid gland is targeted and which starts producing excess hormones. This may be due to Genetics or hereditary.
Thyroid Nodules: Sometimes there is a formation of nodules or swellings or lumps in the neck near the thyroid gland. These nodules start producing more hormones resulting in Hyperthyroidism.
Excessive intake of iodine through diet: The thyroid gland removes iodine from blood and uses it to produce thyroid hormones namely T3 and T4.Iodine rich food are fish, bread and salt.
Presence of excess iodine cause excess production of T3 and T4 which may result in Hyperthyroidism.
Certain medications, any other underlying condition and inflammation of thyroid gland may cause hyperthyroidism.
The signs and symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:
- Swelling in the neck due to enlarged thyroid gland
- Diarrhoea and more frequent urination
- Difficulty in breathing and sleeping
- Excessive sweating and extreme tiredness
- Hyperactivity, mood swings and irritability
- Itch in the skin and rashes and loose nails
- Less or no menstruation in women
- Infertility and loss of interest in sex
- Alopecia-loss of hair in patches
- Muscle weakness, redness of palm, trembling of hand and fingers
- Sudden weight loss or gain, fast heart beats
The presence of above symptoms may help diagnose the condition of hyperthyroidism. Sometimes the symptoms are absent or less symptoms may be present. The visible sign may show an enlarged thyroid gland.
The doctor may conduct a physical examination and suggest a blood test which is known as Thyroid Function Test and this test evaluates the levels of thyroid hormones like T3 and T4.
The doctor may suggest medications which can treat the condition of hyperthyroidism. This condition is not fatal and can be easily managed by taking the prescribed medications regularly on time which keep the level of thyroid hormones in check.
Sometime the doctor may suggest Surgery for permanent removal of the thyroid gland.
Medication and Diet help in managing the symptoms and if left untreated may cause severity of symptoms.
Famous TV Stars Sophia Vergera, Oprah Winfrey all have thyroid disorders and are coping with it well with medications, diet and surgery.