Signs and Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism

November 12, 2012

Signs and Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism is a disorder of the thyroid gland that occurs when the gland produces more thyroid hormone than required. The condition affects almost 1 percent of U.S. population, and is more prevalent in women than in men.

Altered Metabolism

Hyperthyroidism is characterized by increased production of thyroid hormones T3 and T4, which play an important role in your metabolism. The disease speeds up your body’s ability to process and consume energy. Altered metabolism can lead to fatigue, appetite changes, and elevated blood sugar levels. Patients may also experience weight gain or weight loss due to changes in the metabolism. Frequent bowel movements or diarrhea, nausea and vomiting may also occur in some patients.

Hyperthyroidism and Pregnancy

Hyperthyroidism increases the risk of light or missed menstrual periods. This may, in turn, lower your chances of getting pregnant. Many young women with hyperthyroid symptoms find it hard to conceive. Human chronic gonadotropin (HCG), the hormone produced during pregnancy, also has a thyroid stimulating effect and causes hyperthyroidism symptoms in 10 to 20 percent of pregnant women. Untreated hyperthyroidism during pregnancy can lead to complications such as preterm labor, spontaneous abortion, low birth-weight, stillbirths and high blood pressure.

Mental Disturbances

People with hyperthyroidism may experience a variety of mental symptoms including anxiety, tension, impatience, irritability, increased sensitivity to noise and fluctuating depression. Insomnia is also a common hyperthyroid symptom. Thinning of hair and weight issues associated with hyperthyroidism may also influence the mood of the individual and increase their risk of anxiety and depression.

Other Symptoms

Other hyperthyroid symptoms vary significantly, depending on the age of the individual, the amount of hormones produced and duration of the disease. The disease is associated with a variety of other symptoms ranging from heart palpitations and heat intolerance to increased sweating and shortness of breath. Some patients may experience loss of vision, protruding eyes, muscle weakness or sudden paralysis. Both men and women may experience skin flushing, which is more apparent in individuals with lighter skin tones.

It is important to remember that not all hyperthyroid symptoms manifest in every patient. The symptoms of the disease may overlap with many other conditions. Most patients and health care providers may overlook hyperthyroidism as a cause for these symptoms. A simple laboratory blood test can help confirm the diagnosis of the disease. Treatment may involve anti-thyroid medications and surgery. Most people can control or treat the hyperthyroid symptoms completely with appropriate interventions.

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