Hyperthyroidism is a condition in which thyroid gland is producing an increased amount of thyroid hormones. Thyrotoxicosis is a toxic condition that is as result of excessive thyroid hormones from any cause. Thyrotoxicosis can be caused by an excessive intake of thyroid hormone or by overproduction of thyroid hormones by the thyroid gland. Thyroid hormones are produced by the thyroid gland. This gland is located in the lower part of the neck in the front side. The gland wraps around the windpipe and has a shape of a butterfly, formed by two lobes and attached by a middle part isthmus. The thyroid gland utilizes iodine present in our regular food and iodized salt that is used in food to produce thyroid hormones. The two most important thyroid hormones are thyroxine (T4) â€" 99% and triiodothyronine (T3) â€" 1%. Biologically most activity is T3. Once released from the thyroid gland into the blood, a large amount of T4 is converted into T3. The thyroid is regulated by another gland located in the brain, called the pituitary. The pituitary is regulated in part by the thyroid through "feedback" mechanism of thyroid hormone on the pituitary gland and by another gland in the brain called the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus releases a hormone called thyrotropin releasing hormone (TRH), which sends a signal to the pituitary to release thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). In turn, TSH sends a signal to the thyroid to release thyroid hormones. If a disruption occurs at any of these levels, a disturbance in thyroid hormone production may result in a deficiency of thyroid hormone which results in hypothyroidism. The rate of thyroid hormone production is controlled by the pituitary gland. If there is an insufficient amount of thyroid hormone circulating in the body to support normal functioning, the release of TSH is increased by the pituitary gland to stimulate more thyroid hormone production. In contrast, when there is an excessive amount of circulating thyroid hormone, TSH levels goes down as the pituitary attempts to decrease the production of thyroid hormone.
Some common causes of hyperthyroidism include:
- Graves' Disease
- Functioning adenoma and Toxic Multinodular Goiter
- Excessive intake of thyroid hormones
- Decreased amount of TSH
- Excessive iodine intake
Hyperthyroidism is suggested by several signs and symptoms; however, patients with mild disease usually experience no symptoms. In patients older than 70 years, the typical signs and symptoms also may be absent. In general, the symptoms become more obvious as the degree of hyperthyroidism increases. The symptoms usually are related to an increase in the metabolic rate of the body.
Common symptoms include:
- Excessive sweating
- Heat intolerance.
- Increased bowel movements
- Tremor (usually fine shaking)
- Nervousness, irritability
- Decreased concentration
- Irregular and scanty menstrual flow
In older patients, irregular heart rhythms and heart failure can occur. In its most severe form, untreated hyperthyroidism may result in "thyroid storm," a condition involving high blood pressure, fever, and heart failure. Mental changes, such as confusion and delirium, also may occur.
Hyperthyroidism can be suspected in patients with:
- Excessive sweating
- Smooth velvety skin
- Fine hair
- An enlarged thyroid gland
There may be puffiness around the eyes and a characteristic stare due to the elevation of the upper eyelids. Advanced symptoms are easily detected, but early symptoms, especially in the elderly, may be quite inconspicuous. In all cases, a blood test is needed to confirm the diagnosis. The blood levels of thyroid hormones can be measured directly and usually are elevated with hyperthyroidism. However, the main tool for detection of hyperthyroidism is measurement of the blood TSH level. As mentioned earlier, TSH is secreted by the pituitary gland. If an excess amount of thyroid hormone is present, TSH level falls in an attempt to reduce production of thyroid hormone. Thus, the measurement of TSH should result in low or undetectable levels in cases of hyperthyroidism. However, there is one exception. If the excessive amount of thyroid hormone is due to a TSH-secreting pituitary tumor, then the levels of TSH will be abnormally high. This uncommon disease is known as "secondary hyperthyroidism." Although the blood tests mentioned previously can confirm the presence of excessive thyroid hormone, they do not point to a specific cause. If there is obvious involvement of the eyes, a diagnosis of Graves' disease is almost certain. A combination of antibody screening (for Graves' disease) and a thyroid scan using radioactively-labelled iodine (which concentrates in the thyroid gland) can help diagnose the underlying thyroid disease. These investigations are chosen on a case-by-case basis.
Hyperthyroidism can lead to a number of complications:
- Heart problems.
- Brittle bones.
- Eye problems.
- Red, swollen skin.
- Thyrotoxic crisis.
Role of Homeopathy in Hyperthyroidism:
Homeopathy helps in giving improvement in symptoms as well as decrease levels of TSH. A course of at least 8 to 12 months is recommended for optimum results. Continuation of treatment and total duration of treatment is case to case different. Achieving good control over hyperthyroidism means preventing your self from complications and living a symptom free life. Homeopathy plays a complementary role along with conventional treatment. Good response with homeopathic treatment helps in reducing need for conventional medicineâ€™s use for longer time. This indirectly helps in preventing side effects of long term use of conventional medicines.