Hyperthyroidism is a reasonably common condition that affects the thyroid gland. This gland is at the front lower part of the neck. It is quite small and shaped like a butterfly. It is responsible for the production of T4 (tetraiodothyronine) and T3 (triiodothyronine). These are two hormones that affect every cell in our body, helping them regulate their energy usage. The thyroid gland, simply put, is responsible for the regulation of the metabolism by releasing the T4 and T3 hormone. When the thyroid produces too much of either or both of those two hormones, then the patient can receive a diagnosis of hyperthyroidism. Once this happens, the patient may also need to receive treatment to help improve on the symptoms. But what causes hyperthyroidism and how is it treated?
There are a number of different things that can cause the condition of hyperthyroidism. The most common is known as Graves' disease, which is a type of autoimmune disorder. What this means is that antibodies get confused and consider the thyroid gland as a foreign invader and attack it. This then causes the gland to secrete more hormones. Graves' disease is more often found in women than it is in men, and it is usually found in families, suggesting that a genetic link may be present. Hence, if you have relatives who had the condition, and particularly if you are a woman, you should inform your physician about this.
There are a number of other possible causes, including:
– Having too much iodine
– Thyroiditis, whereby the thyroid gland is inflamed
– Tumors of the testes or ovaries
– Benign tumors of the pituitary or thyroid gland
– Supplements and medications that affect T4
Once patients are diagnosed, they will given treatment to manage their symptoms. This includes:
– Medication, including methimazole (Tapazole), which stops the thyroid gland from producing hormones
– Radioactive iodine, which 70% of adult patients in this country with hyperthyroidism receive. This destroys the hormone-producing cells. However, this has significant side effects, including taste changes, a sore throat, dry eyes, and a dry mouth. Furthermore, the radiation can spread to others during treatment.
– Surgery, whereby some or all of the gland is taken out. After this, lifelong medication to prevent hypothyroidism has to be taken. Most also have to take other medication to control other symptoms.
While this explains what causes hyperthyroidism and how is it treated, there are some lifestyle remedies that you can also look into. Always consuming a healthy, balanced diet that focuses on both sodium and calcium can be very beneficial to help you prevent the condition. Again, if the condition runs in your family, you should speak to your physician to devise a preventative diet plan, which also includes regular physical exercise and potentially take nutritional supplements.
Additionally, hyperthyroidism can lead to osteoporosis, which is a weakening and thinning of the bones. Hence, it is common to be prescribed calcium and vitamin D supplements, so that bones can remain as strong as possible. It is important to find the right dosage of these supplements.
If you need more information on what causes hyperthyroidism and how is it treated, consult with a physician.