Hyperthyroidism

Treating Overactive Thyroids and Thyrotoxicosis

According to the American Thyroid Association, an estimated 20 million people in the U.S. have thyroid disease, or about 12% of the population. Many of them will seek hyperthyroidism treatment at some point in their lives.

What Is Hyperthyroidism?

Hyperthyroidism is when the thyroid gland becomes overactive. It then produces excessive amounts of a hormone called thyroxine, which increases the body’s metabolism. When too much thyroxine is present, it causes a condition called thyrotoxicosis.

Hyperthyroidism

What Causes Hyperthyroidism?

An increase in thyroid hormones can happen for various reasons. Sometimes hormone output increases in response to signals from the pituitary gland. Other reasons thyroid activity can increase include:

  • Thyroiditis: An inflammation of the thyroid gland, due to an autoimmune condition, pregnancy, or for an unknown reason, which triggers excess hormones to leak into the bloodstream.

 

  • Grave’s disease: An autoimmune disorder that causes antibodies to be produced, which stimulate thyroxine production. Grave’s disease is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism.

 

  • Thyroid nodules: Rather than all of the thyroid gland producing excess hormones, a nodule, or adenoma, produces too much locally. An adenoma is a benign growth that has isolated itself from the rest of the thyroid gland.

Taking more thyroid hormone tablets than prescribed, consuming ground beef contaminated with thyroid tissue, and taking the antiarrhythmic drug Amiodarone (which has a molecular structure similar to thyroxine) can trigger symptoms and lead one to visit a hyperthyroidism specialist. Other potential causes include viral infections and consuming excess iodine.

Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism

The symptoms of an overactive thyroid vary significantly from person to person. They often mimic the signs of other health problems, such as heart or gastrointestinal conditions, or fibromyalgia. 

Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Weight loss, despite unchanged or increased food intake
  • An increase in appetite
  • Tachycardia, or rapid heartbeat (over 100 beats per minute)
  • Arrythmia (an irregular heartbeat) or palpitations
  • Chronic fatigue and weakness
  • Anxiety and irritability
  • Hand tremors
  • Depression
  • Heat intolerance
  • Insomnia
  • Sweating
  • Low libido
  • Diarrhea
  • More frequent bowel movements
  • Goiter (neck swelling due to an enlarged thyroid gland)
  • Changes in menstrual patterns
  • Thinning skin
  • Brittle hair 

In rare cases, hyperthyroidism may result in eye problems, especially in smokers. Graves’ ophthalmopathy is characterized by dry, red, or swollen eyes as well as excessive tearing, light sensitivity, reduced eye movement, or blurry or double vision. Protruding eyeballs is another telltale sign.

Hyperthyroidism

How is Hyperthyroidism Diagnosed?

Several methods are used to diagnose hyperthyroidism. The process typically starts with a physical exam. A doctor might look for tremors in your fingers, overactive reflexes, a rapid or irregular pulse, or an enlarge thyroid gland by feeling your neck as you swallow. Other diagnostic measures include: 

  • Blood tests: The levels of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) from the pituitary gland, thyroxine or, in the case of Graves’ disease, anti-TSH-receptor antibodies can be checked to verify a diagnosis. Doctors can check for anti-thyroid peroxidase to diagnose Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. The most typical diagnosis for hyperthyroidism is a decreased level of TSH and elevated thyroid hormones.

 

  • Radioiodine uptake test: Radioactive iodine is taken orally. The levels of radioiodine in your thyroid will be tested at specific time intervals (often four, six, or 24 hours, or all these intervals). If the level of uptake is elevated, too much thyroxine is being produced, while low levels indicate that thyroxine is leaking from the gland into the blood.

 

  • Medical scanning: Diagnostic imaging can help determine if one has an overactive thyroid. Ultrasound is effective at detecting thyroid nodules. Another procedure is injecting a radioisotope into a vein in your elbow or hand, and laying on a table with your head stretched backward. A computer system is used to image the thyroid gland as it collects the iodine.

Hyperthyroidism

Our Treatment/Consultation Process

We offer regular seminars to help you learn more about your overactive thyroid symptoms and potentially beneficial treatments and lifestyle changes. Deep testing is performed to identify metabolic, hormonal, and nutritional markers that can provide clues into the causes of your hyperthyroidism. Personalized counseling enables us to assist in the treatment process and provide help with, for example, nutrition planning, which can help manage your symptoms.

A hyperthyroidism specialist may recommend regular exercise, relaxation techniques, and changes in diet, including avoiding foods high in iodine. Examples include kelp and edible seaweed. Reducing iodine intake is most often recommended for those with autoimmune hyperthyroidism.

Our team customizes a treatment plan for each individual patient. Common treatments for an overactive thyroid include:

Hormone Treatment

Hormone therapy may be used if the thyroid gland has been removed or no longer functions normally. It can also be used to suppress thyroid function and growth of tissue, especially in patients with thyroid cancer. Antithyroid drugs include methimazole and propylthiouracil that prevents the conversion of inactive thyroid hormones to their active form.

Beta-Blockers

Often used to treat high blood pressure, beta-blockers can reduce the effects of hyperthyroidism, such as rapid pulse, tremor, and anxiety. The beta-blocker Propranolol can treat symptoms directly or inhibit the conversion of thyroid hormones. This class of medications often provides immediate, although temporary, relief from hyperthyroidism symptoms. Long-term treatment can improve symptoms in weeks or months, but often lasts for a year or longer.

Radioiodine

Injecting a more potent form of iodine than is used in diagnostics can induce thyroid damage, restricting or destroying its function. Iodine-123 or iodine-131 are the isotopes often used. Over-active thyroid cells take up the iodine more readily, so the destruction is typically local without any widespread effects.

Surgery

Thyroidectomy, or surgical removal of part or all of the thyroid gland, isn’t the most common treatment. It’s most often used for pregnant women or individuals who otherwise can’t tolerate anti-thyroid drugs. For most patients, other treatment methods are usually effective. Risks from surgery include cutting the recurrent laryngeal nerve, causing difficulty swallowing; infections; and damage to the vocal cords or the parathyroid glands that control blood calcium levels. Removal of the thyroid requires administering levothyroxine for the rest of the patient’s life. This medication supplies thyroid hormone to the body.

Hyperthyroidism Specialists at Next Advanced Medicine

At Next Advanced Medicine, we work to find the underlying causes of thyroid diseases and develop personalized hyperthyroidism treatment plans. Our goal is to educate the patient and identify factors that affect disease progression and treatment. To set up a consultation, learn more about diagnostic and treatment options, and receive help from experienced doctors and nutritionists, contact Next Advanced Medicine at 888-585-4099 today. Also feel free to sign up for a seminar near you.

We Are One of the Top Experts in Your Area

"My association with Next Advanced has been an invaluable experience. I have learned so much and continue to learn about this disease and caring for a loved one."

James Davis, Age 32

"My association with Next Advanced has been an invaluable experience. I have learned so much and continue to learn about this disease and caring for a loved one."

James Davis, Age 32

"My association with Next Advanced has been an invaluable experience. I have learned so much and continue to learn about this disease and caring for a loved one."

James Davis, Age 32

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