Hyperthyroidism: Diagnosis and Treatment
Hyperthyroidism is one of the most common issues involving the thyroid. Nearly 1 out of every 100 Americans suffer from hyperthyroidism. People who also have a family history of thyroid diseases, suffer from type 1 or type 2 diabetes, and are pregnant have an increased risk of hyperthyroidism.
Common symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:
- Weight loss despite an increase in appetite
- Rapid or irregular heart rate
- Twitchiness, fatigue, irritability, nervous sweat
- Muscle weakness and shaky hands
The good news is that hyperthyroidism
Hyperthyroidism is usually diagnosed through a combination of a physical examination and blood testing.
After checking your neck for signs of any growth around the thyroid gland, your doctor may draw a blood sample. Then they will test your blood for signs of either high levels of thyroxine, or low to nonexistent levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone or TSH.
Alert your doctor if you are taking medication or supplements with biotin as these might throw off the results of these tests.
If your tests come out positive for hyperthyroidism your doctor will perform one of the following tests to ascertain the source of your hyperthyroidism:
- Radioiodine Uptake Test – In this test, your doctor will ask you to ingest a small amount of radioactive iodine to see how much will collect into your thyroid gland after 4, 6, and 24 hours. If your thyroid retains a large amount of radioiodine, this might be a sign of hyperfunctioning thyroid gland. The most common cause of this is Graves Disease, an autoimmune disorder of the thyroid gland. If you suffer from hyperthyroidism but your radioiodine retention levels are low, you may suffer from thyroiditis.
- Thyroid Scan – Your doctor may choose to have iodine injected into your bloodstream. Your thyroid gland will be analyzed using a special computer scan in order to see how your thyroid absorbs iodine.
- Thyroid Ultrasound – Using soundwave imaging, your doctor will be able to see growths and irregularities in the thyroid gland without requiring you to ingest iodine
The good news is that there a variety of treatments for hyperthyroidism based on the age, health, and condition of the patient, as well as the cause of your condition. These treatments include:
- Radioactive Iodine – Ingested through the mouth, a patient can take radioactive iodine which is then absorbed by the thyroid gland causing it to shrink. Symptoms include nausea, tenderness of the neck, swollen salivary glands, and loss of taste, but these symptoms subside in a few months. However, there is a chance that Radioactive Iodine might cause hypothyroidism which might lead to a patient needing to take thyroxine supplements in the future.
- Anti Thyroid Medication – Medications such as Methimazole ( Tapozole) or propylithiouracil. Medication usually leads to symptom relief in a few weeks but may take up to a year or longer before treatment is complete. Both drugs have been linked to severe liver damage, while Methazole has been deemed far safer than propylithiouracil.
- Surgery ( Thyroidectomy) – If you are pregnant or would prefer to avoid or can’t take antithyroid medication or radioactive iodine, you may be a candidate for surgical treatment. Surgical treatments involving hyperthyroidism usually involve removing the thyroid and supplementing your thyroid hormone levels using medication such as levothyroxine. If your parathyroid glands also need to be removed, you will also need medication to regulate your calcium levels as well.
While Hyperthyroidism can be painful and feel like a lifelong ailment, there is a treatment for you. So if you or a loved one is suffering from symptoms of Hyperthyroidism, consult a medical professional today.