Overview and Symptoms: The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that sits in your throat. It is responsible for producing thyroid hormones, which help regulate your body’s metabolism. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism can vary greatly, depending upon the age of the patient and the length and severity of thyroid hormone excess. Common symptoms of thyroid hormone excess include weight loss, heat intolerance, tremor, palpitations, anxiety, increased frequency of bowel movements, and shortness of breath. Hyperthyroidism may occur as a result of an autoimmune condition, such as in the case of Grave’s disease, that may require treatment for the rest of your life, or it may happen because of another kind of illness or injury that may only last several weeks or months.
Diagnosis: The diagnosis of hyperthyroidism relies heavily upon laboratory tests because symptoms of hyperthyroidism can be very general and can be attributed to many different causes.
Treatment: Medications may be used to help treat the symptoms of hyperthyroidism. In some cases, destruction of the thyroid may be recommended, whether by surgical removal or by ingesting radioactive pills that target the thyroid. In the case of thyroid destruction, you would then have a need to take thyroid replacement hormone, to make up for that which would body could no longer produce. Depending on the cause of your hyperthyroidism, underlying issues may still be ongoing even if your thyroid lab tests are normal because of the medication you are taking. For women with hyperthyroidism or Grave’s Disease who want to get pregnant or are pregnant, the body’s need for thyroid hormone goes up. Expect to adjust your medication dose regularly when trying to get pregnant and during pregnancy, and make sure to contact your healthcare provider right away if you are a woman taking thyroid medication and you find out you are pregnant. Anyone with a diagnosis of hyperthyroidism or Grave’s Disease should expect to see their healthcare provider from 2-6 times a year for monitoring of the condition.
Your healthcare provider can help determine which type of therapy is best for you.