Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism – Symptoms and Diagnosis

Hyperthyroidism occurs when there is an excessive amount of the thyroid hormone being produced. The degree to which you feel the symptoms is going to vary from person to person.   There are some common signs and symptoms for someone who has hyperthyroidism.

Symptoms

  1. Irritability
  2. Muscle Weakness
  3. Trouble Sleeping
  4. Rapid Heart Rate
  5. Heat Intolerance
  6. Tremors
  7. Thinning Skin
  8. Brittle Hair
  9. Diarrhea
  10. Weight loss
  11. Opthalmopathy (bulging eyes)
  12. Enlargement of the gland (goiter)

Graves Disease

Graves’ disease is an immune system disorder where there is an abnormal stimulation of the thyroid gland caused by an antibody in the blood that attaches to thyroid cells.  There isn’t a ton of information as to why some people develop the autoimmune version of hyperthyroidism and some don’t.

Graves’ disease is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism in the US.  It is eight times more common in women than men.  Typical onset is usually between 20 and 50 and family history can be a contributing factor.

Other Conditions Linked with Graves Disease

You are more likely to develop Graves Disease when you have other immune disorders such as

  1. Rheumatoid Arthritis
  2. Pernicious Anemia
  3. Celiac Disease
  4. Vitiligo
  5. Type 1 Diabetes
  6. Lupus

Diagnosis

During the physical exam the doctor may check your pulse to see if it’s rapid, they may check to see if they can detect a tremor when your fingers are extended, overactive reflexes, and eye changes.  They will also feel your kneck to see if the thyroid gland is enlarged, lumpy or if you feel any pain or discomfort when swallowing.

Physical Exam

Lab tests will confirm the diagnosis.  You’ll have blood drawn and they’ll check for T3 , T4 and TSH levels.  Typically hyperthyroidism or Graves patients show high levels of thyroxine and either very low or non existent levels of TSH.  At times they may have you repeat the tests before offering a formal diagnosis and treatment.

Is it Dangerous ?

Some people live their lives with the condition and their symptoms may be moderate or they may be asymptomatic entirely.  For some the complications of certain symptoms if left untreated could be fatal.  In example a symptom is rapid heart rate, that eventually can lead to an arrhythmia and cause a heart attack or stroke.  Like most things not seeking treatment can in turn lead to other complications.

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