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Friday, April 10, 2015

Causes And Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism

The thyroid gland is situated in the neck region and is mainly concerned with the regulation of the body's metabolism. But when this gland does not function properly, it leads to a range of problems. One of these is hyperthyroidism.
What is hyperthyroidism?
Hyperthyroidism literally means 'too much thyroid hormone'. Under normal circumstances, the thyroid gland produces the exact required amount of two hormones called T3 and T4. In hyperthyroidism, the gland produces excessive amounts of any one or both of these hormones. The biggest effect this has on the human body is that it speeds up the rate of metabolism. Subsequently, all the internal processes in the body speed up, which, in turn, has an effect on organs like the heart, pancreas, etc.

What causes hyperthyroidism?
  • Hyperthyroidism affects people of both sexes, though women are ten times more likely than men to experience it. Around 80 percent of all hyperthyroidism cases are caused by Graves' disease. This is an inherited, auto-immune disorder that appears when some people reach middle age. It is most likely triggered by a bacterial or viral infection. The antibodies produced against the infection are assumed to react with the thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) receptors, which causes the thyroid gland to become overactive.
  • The other major cause of hyperthyroidism is over-production of the thyroid hormones due to an enlargement of the thyroid gland itself. This enlargement may be due to a goitre, which refers to the swelling of the entire thyroid gland. In other cases, the gland may develop a collection of growths, called an adenoma. These growths are usually benign, but can turn malignant over a period of time. Apart from producing extra amounts of thyroidhormones, an enlarged thyroid gland can damage other structures in the neck region by compressing them.
  • There are a few lesser causes as well. An inflamed thyroid gland, called thyroiditis, can also result in increased hormone production at times. This condition is usually seen in women, after they have a baby. In other cases, certain medications may interfere with normal thyroid functioning. These are rare occurrences though, and they usually result in mild cases ofhyperthyroidism, which can be easily cured.

Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism
  • Excessive amounts of thyroid hormone in the body lead to an overall increase in an individual's rate of metabolism. The physical symptoms of increased metabolism caused by hyperthyroidism include:
  • Increased heart rate, leading to palpitations
  • Muscle weakness
  • Hair loss
  • Increase in appetite but loss of weight
  • Irritability and nervousness
  • Intolerance to heat
  • Bulging eyeballs
  • Increase in bowel movements
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Tremors in the hands
  • Fatigue
  • Heavy perspiration
  • Decreased menstrual flow or absent periods
  • All these symptoms need not appear at the same time. However, if you experience three or more of these symptoms, it is advisable to consult your doctor.

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