The thyroid gland (a butterfly-shaped gland), located in the neck, performs the function of secreting hormones that regulate your metabolic rate. The gland’s high/low activity is referred to as thyroid imbalance. Hyperactive thyroid, also referred to as hyperthyroidism or thyrotoxicosis, occurs when too much thyroid hormone is produced in excess.
[Read: Treatment for Hyperthyroidism]
Causes of over active thyroid
The likely causes of a hyperthyroidism include inflammation, irritation and swelling of the thyroid; non-cancerous growths on the thyroid or pituitary glands, viral infections, tumours on the testes or ovaries and ingesting too much thyroid hormone or iodine. Graves' disease is one of the leading causes of hyperthyroidism, wherein the antibodies that protect us from viruses, bacteria and other foreign substances, stimulate the gland to produce thyroid hormone in excess quantity.
[Read: Tips to Prevent Hyperthyroidism]
How hyperactive thyroid affects body functions
Thyroid gland produces triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4) hormones, which serve an important function in our bodies, primary being the regulation of metabolism. The disrupted metabolism affects the heart rate and calorie-burning process, resulting in acceleration of various body functions.
Signs and symptoms of a hyperthyroidism starts slow and manifest gradually. Patients over 70 years of age may exhibit subtle symptoms such as increased heart rate, perspiration and fatigue during routine activities, which are often confused with other medical conditions.
The common symptoms of overactive thyroid gland include fatigue, rapid heartbeat, excessive sweating, weight loss, irregular bowel movements, intolerance to heat, insomnia, no menstrual periods, muscle weakness, hair loss, nervousness and an enlarged thyroid gland (goitre). If hyperthyroidism is caused by Graves' disease, individual may have symptoms such as Graves' ophthalmopathy and an eye disorder.
[Read: Care during Hyperthyroidism]
About medical check-up
The doctor will examine if your thyroid gland is enlarged along with check for pulse, moist skin and eye changes. A blood test is also conducted to measure the level of thyroid hormone in blood, to confirm the diagnosis of over active thyroid gland.
Treatment for hyperactive thyroid gland
You have three options to treat hyperthyroid symptoms, which include radioactive iodine (RAI), anti-thyroid drugs and surgery. Radioactive iodine, pursued orally, damages hyperactive thyroid cells and shrinks thyroid. Anti-thyroid drugs, such as Tapazole and PTU, restrict thyroid's hormone-producing ability, while surgery removes thyroid gland to restore normal hormone levels. The appropriate treatment procedure depends on the severity of a patient's symptoms.
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