Hyperthyroidism Q & A
What is the thyroid?
Your thyroid is a gland that produces and releases hormones, located at the base of your neck. Thyroid hormones are largely responsible for regulating your body’s metabolism.
What is hyperthyroidism?
Hyperthyroidism is a condition marked by an overactive thyroid. If you have hyperthyroidism, your thyroid overproduces the thyroid hormone thyroxine. It often stems from a lack of production of thyroid-stimulating hormone, which comes from your pituitary gland. This leads to a multitude of signs and symptoms that vary from person to person.
If you have hyperthyroidism, you might experience:
- Weight loss
- Heart palpitations
- Feeling hot or sweating most of the time
- Heat sensitivity
- Diarrhea or frequent bowel movements
- Irregular periods
If you arrive at Ally Endocrinology experiencing symptoms of hyperthyroidism, the team performs a blood test to measure your levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone and thyroxine.
If you need further testing to confirm a hyperthyroidism diagnosis, the team may recommend a nuclear thyroid scan or a thyroid ultrasound imaging test.
Another test for hyperthyroidism, the radioiodine uptake test, involves an oral dose of radioiodine. The team checks you hours after the test to see how much of the radioiodine your thyroid gland collects.
What causes hyperthyroidism?
Hyperthyroidism has three main causes, and the team at Ally Endocrinology performs one or more diagnostic tests in order to find out which of these conditions is causing your hyperthyroidism:
Grave’s disease is an autoimmune disorder. If you have it, your body produces antibodies that stimulate your thyroid’s production of thyroxine. It can cause eye abnormalities, like bulging eyes.
Thyroiditis, or inflammation of the thyroid, often occurs during or after pregnancy. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, a specific form of the disease, causes you to develop antibodies against your thyroid gland that damage it.
Plummer’s disease occurs when adenomas in your thyroid, or thyroid growths, enlarge your thyroid and cause thyroxine overproduction.
What are the treatment options for hyperthyroidism?
The team at Ally Endocrinology works with you closely to develop an individualized hyperthyroidism treatment plan. Usually, the first step of treatment for hyperthyroidism is medication; anti-thyroid medications and beta-blockers can reduce your symptoms and improve your quality of life.
Ally Endocrinology also offers radioactive iodine treatment for severe cases of hyperthyroidism. During this treatment, you take doses of radioactive iodine that your thyroid gland absorbs. The radioactive iodine causes your thyroid gland to shrink and produce less thyroxine. You shouldn’t get pregnant if you’ve had this treatment within the last six months.
In a few cases, surgery is necessary to remove most of your thyroid gland. This may be your best option if you’re pregnant because proper levels of thyroid hormone are critical for fetal development.
You may have trouble becoming pregnant in the first place with hyperthyroidism, and the team at Ally Endocrinology can adjust your medications and check your hormone levels frequently throughout pregnancy if it occurs.
To learn more about hyperthyroidism and the available treatments for it, call your nearest office of Ally Endocrinology, or schedule your visit online today.