Overactive thyroid gland occurs when the thyroid gland produces a large amount of thyroxin. An overactive thyroid gland may cause an increased metabolism speed, resulting in unintended weight loss and a fast and irregular heartbeat.
There are many ways to treat the overactive thyroid gland. Doctors use anti-thyroid drugs and radioiodine to slow the production of thyroid hormone. Sometimes, treatment includes surgery to remove your entire or part of your thyroid gland.
Although the overactive thyroid gland may be dangerous if you ignore it, most people respond well once the condition is diagnosed and treated.
1. Causes of an overactive thyroid gland
There are three main diseases responsible for the overactive thyroid gland.
1.1 Graves’ disease
Graves ‘disease. It is the most common cause of overactive thyroid gland (approximately 90% of cases). It is an autoimmune disease: antibodies overly stimulate the thyroid to produce more hormones. The disease also sometimes attacks other tissues, such as those of the eyes.
1.2 Thyroid nodules
Nodules are small masses that form in the thyroid gland, alone or in a group. Not all nodules produce hormones, but those that do (called “toxic”) can cause an overactive thyroid gland.
If inflammation affects the thyroid, it can also cause an excess of thyroid hormones in the blood. Often the cause of the inflammation is unknown. It can be infectious or occur after pregnancy. Usually, thyroiditis causes an overactive thyroid gland of short duration. The thyroid will be regaining its normal functioning after a few months, without intervention. Medication can help relieve symptoms while waiting for the disease to pass.
2. Symptoms of an overactive thyroid gland
- Increased appetite associated with weight loss
- Heat intolerance
- Increased thirst
- Hyperactivity despite fatigue
- Fast heartbeat
- Nervousness, anxiety, and irritability
- More frequent bowel movements
3. Risk factors
Sex: The disease affects women more than men.
The overactive thyroid gland, often caused by Graves’ disease, is common to family members.
4. Possible complications of an overactive thyroid gland
overactive thyroid gland causes an acceleration of the metabolism, therefore an increased expenditure of energy. In the long term, untreated overactive thyroid gland increases the risk of developing osteoporosis because calcium absorption by the bones is affected. The risk of developing a type of arrhythmia called atrial fibrillation also increases.
Untreated major overactive thyroid gland can lead to a thyrotoxic crisis. During such a crisis, all signs of an overactive thyroid gland are found and expressed at their peak, which can lead to serious complications, such as heart failure or coma. The person is confused and agitated. This situation requires emergency medical care.
5. Diagnostic of the overactive thyroid gland
It can be diagnosed by a clinical examination and a thyroid imaging, and finally, by a blood test that can show both a drop in TSH hormone levels and an increase in thyroid hormone levels (T4 and T3) will confirm the diagnosis.
6. Treatment of an overactive thyroid gland
Depending on the origin and intensity of an overactive thyroid gland. Different treatments will be offered by the endocrinologist.
Medications: Some medicines prevent the thyroid gland from producing excessive amounts of hormones, and beta-blocker medications may also be used to immediately control side effects.
Radioactive iodine treatment: this treatment destroys some thyroid cells to stop the overproduction of hormones.
Surgery: in which the thyroid gland, or part of it, is removed, and when completely removed, the person will need to take thyroid medication for life.
7. Living with an overactive thyroid gland
The overactive thyroid gland requires long-term medical monitoring. For effective management, consider:
Respect medical appointments
Take conscientiously the treatment prescribed by the doctor
Perform mandatory exams
Report side effects of treatment to the doctor
Ask the doctor or pharmacist for advice if you are taking other medicines than the treatment
Inform the doctor in case of resumption of an activity
If there has been surgery, wait for complete healing before resuming activity.
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Originally published on Live Positively.