Hyperthyroid Symptoms


Hyperthyroidism is an endocrine condition that occurs due to impaired metabolic function of the thyroid gland, in which it produces excess of the hormone, thyroxine. Hyperthyroidism requires early diagnosis and treatment as it can lead to a serious condition, thyrotoxicosis associated with thyroid storm or thyroid crisis. It requires an appropriate treatment to control the overactive thyroid as untreated thyroid disease can cause severe complications such as irreparable damage of the heart or subsequent death. Affected cases with an overactive thyroid tend to produce surplus of hormones and can present with typical features of hyperthyroid function. Although, the symptoms of hyperthyroidism are specific to each person; however, certain common symptoms can be suggestive of the overactive thyroid condition. These common symptoms include hair loss or thinning, fatigue, excessive sweating and a swollen thyroid that causes bulging of the neck. Here is a detailed discussion about the hyperthyroid symptoms as explained below:

Manifestations of nervous system

  • Hyperthyroidism is characterized with nervousness, one of the diagnostic symptoms.
  • Nervousness could be due to the elevated metabolic rate in the body caused by the increased availability of the thyroid hormone, thus leading to various symptoms.
  • The nervous system manifestations of an overactive thyroid include pervasive hyperactivity, mood swings, anxiety, nervousness and irritability.
  • Affected patients develop restlessness, agitation, extreme mood swings and can be typically fidgety.
  • Hyperthyroidism is associated with sleeping difficulty (insomnia) that can be compared to the action of caffeine.
  • Increased thyroid hormone can prevent from calming down and falling asleep, thus resulting in sleepless nights, contributing to other problems.
  • Affected subjects present with subtle muscular tremors in the hands and tongue that can be easily noticed.
  • Profuse sweating and intolerance to heat is another common symptom of a hyperthyroid gland due to an increased rate of cellular metabolism that generates heat.

Hence, excessive body heat can be generated by an increased metabolic rate, thus causing excessive sweating and heat intolerance to the normal atmosphere.

Unintentional Weight Loss

  • Hyperthyroidism is associated with increased metabolic rate as a result of too much of circulating thyroid hormones.
  • This is associated with an increased rate of calorie burning action than normal; however, hyperthyroidism related weight loss is due to loss of muscle rather than fat.
  • Bulk loss of muscle can cause rapid and profound weight loss when compared to fat; thus, affected subjects frequently tend to develop unintentional weight loss despite an intake of healthy diet and increased appetite.
  • Increased appetite is the most commonly noticed gastrointestinal symptom of hyperthyroidism.
  • Rarely, few cases can gain weight despite being on a healthy diet with recommended calorie count.
  • Generally, the reason behind having an increased appetite is due to the result of higher than normal metabolism in the body.
  • This consequence of thyroid hormone excess can be further exacerbated with increased frequency of defecation and urination.
  • Muscle weakness and fatigue are other hallmark symptoms, which can develop following weight loss.
  • Affected subjects usually experience weakness of the large muscles of thighs and upper arms.
  • There could be difficulty in lifting heavy loads or walking through the stairs.
  • Fatigue can be a result of a chronically hyperactive state of the body.

Eye manifestations

  • Hyperthyroidism affects the eye muscles and movement of eyeball thus, leading to prominent changes in the appearance of eyes.
  • Affected eyes tend to be more widely open than normal due to retraction of the upper eyelid and the blinking is slower than normal.
  • This results in a characteristic wide-eyed stare, referred to as exophthalmos or Graves’ ophthalmopathy.
  • The main cause behind the upper eyelid retraction is that an overactive thyroid gland releases too much of thyroid hormones into the bloodstream thus causing a typical gaze of an eye.
  • The retracted eyes may contain mild bloodshot and affected subjects with these symptoms often develop reduced tolerance to bright light or an increased sensitivity to bright light.
  • Hyperthyroid function can result in burred or double vision in few subjects.
  • Severe eye manifestations of overactive thyroid gland can result in damage to the optic nerve either resulting in partial or complete loss of vision.
  • Bulging eyes (proptosis)is a commonly experienced manifestation of Graves’ disease due to swelling caused by the fluid and inflammatory cell build up in the tissue.
  • Eye muscles tend to become stiff and prevent the complete closure of eyelids, thus resulting in scarring of the eye muscles and can permanently inhibit eye movement on gradual progression of the disease.

Manifestations of reproductive system

  • Hyperthyroidism commonly affects more women by 5 to 10 percent more than men.
  • Women can develop menstrual disorders such as reduced menstrual flow, menstrual irregularities, or temporary cessation of menstruation.

This can occur due to the impaired production of various other female sex hormones in the body caused by increased thyroid hormone level.

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