Hyperthyroidism is a hormonal disorder that occurs when the thyroid gland produces excess thyroxine hormone than the body needs. It is also known as thyrotoxicosis (thyroid hormone in the blood).
Most common symptoms of hyperthyroidism include weight loss, fatigue, muscle weakness, frequent bowel movements, hair fall, irregular menstrual cycle, excessive sweating and lack of sleep. Hyperthyroidism is caused by Grave’s disease, which is an autoimmune disorder that attacks the thyroid gland, causing it to enlarge and produce excess thyroid hormone. Other causes are thyroid nodules (lumps in the thyroid gland), subacute thyroiditis (inflammation of the thyroid gland caused by a virus) lymphocytic thyroiditis (inflammation caused by lymphocytes), excessive intake of iodine and hypothyroidism medications.
Diagnosis of hyperthyroidism involves neck examination by a doctor, iodine thyroid scan, and blood test to measure the levels of thyroxine and thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH).
Hyperthyroidism should be treated with proper medications because when it is left untreated, it can lead to other health complications such as congestive heart failure and osteoporosis. Hyperthyroidism can be treated with medications, dietary and lifestyle changes. Most common hyperthyroidism medications are methimazole and propylthiouracil (for pregnant or breastfeeding women). Beta blockers are also prescribed to relieve symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, nervousness, and tremors. Radioactive iodine-131 is given orally to destroy cells of the thyroid gland to prevent the excessive production of thyroid hormone. In severe cases, the thyroid gland is surgically removed.
Iodine intake in the form of supplements and foods should be avoided as it can worsen hyperthyroidism. Vitamin B12, zinc and iron-rich foods should be included in the diet because people with hyperthyroidism are more likely to suffer from these nutrient deficiencies. Excessive weight loss can be managed by taking protein rich foods such as salmon, nuts and legumes. When hyperthyroidism is not treated, it may lead to osteoporosis. Including calcium-rich foods such as dairy products can help prevent such complications. Following a healthy lifestyle by avoiding alcohol, quitting smoking and engaging in regular physical activities can help improve the overall health.
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