Hyperthyroidism (also known as overactive thyroid) is a condition in which the body makes an excess of thyroid hormone. Thyroid hormones function to regulate the body's energy. Therefore, an increase in levels of thyroid hormones makes the body burn energy faster, thereby speeding up the vital functions.
Prognosis of hyperthyroidism
There are many causes of hyperthyroidism. The three common causes of hyperthyroidism include Grave’s disease, hyper-functioning thyroid nodules and thyroiditis. Currently available treatments for hyperthyroidism are effective in treating all common types of hyperthyroidism. In most cases, hyperthyroidism can be treated effectively with no long-term adverse effects. Side-effects of medications used to treat hyperthyroidism are more common in older individuals.
Treatment with radioactive iodine causes the gland to shrink and symptoms to subside in about three to six months, but as this treatment causes thyroid activity to slow considerably, permanent medication to replace thyroxine is needed.
The anti-thyroid medications (propylthiouracil and methimazole) gradually reduce the symptoms by preventing the thyroid gland from producing excess amount of hormones. Symptoms improve in most patients within six to 12 weeks, but treatment with anti-thyroid medications is usually given for at least a year and often longer. In some people, this treatment cures the problem permanently, but many people may experience a relapse of symptoms in a few months to years.
Surgery for thyroid gland removal thyroidectomy can permanently cure hyperthyroidism, but can also result in inadequate production of thyroid hormone in the body. You may need medication to replace thyroxine for life after that.
Hyperthyroidism is rarely fatal, but if it is not treated on time, complications can arise. Complications of untreated hyperthyroidism include:
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