Hyperthyroidism is one of the most common conditions in the world. It occurs more often in females than males, but it’s not unusual for males to have it. Since the thyroid hormone regulates virtually every single metabolic process in the body, the signs and symptoms of hyperthyroidism may vary a lot among different individuals and cover a wide spectrum of clinical presentations.
Hyperthyroidism is a condition in which there is an excess amount of hormone in blood because of excess production of the hormone. Thyrotoxicosis is presented with elevated thyroid hormone level in the blood of any cause. Other than by hyperthyroidism, thyrotoxicosis may be caused by overdosing a hormonal substitution medicine (and some other not so common conditions). Patients suffering from hypothyroidism, if taking too much of the medicine, may have a hyperthyroidism signs and symptoms.
What are the symptoms of hyperthyroidism?
– Nervousness and irritability
The thyroid gland can change the personality! The degree of the nervousness can be so high, that a patient seeks for psychiatric help.
– Heat intolerance and increased sweating
Patients often report strikingly warm and sweaty skin.
Tremors are uncontrolled shaking of the hands. It doesn’t have to be noticeable. There is a simple test doctors often perform. The patient takes a piece of paper and puts it between his palms. If the tremor is present, the corners of the paper will shake. This way, a discreet tremor will reveal.
– Tachycardia and palpitations
Combined with nervousness, those episodes of tachycardia and palpitations may look like panic attacks. As mentioned above, psychiatric treatment may be indicated.
– Weight loss with increase in appetite
Thyroid hormones “speed up” the metabolism. The body needs more energy to function, therefore patients may experience increased appetite and/or weight loss. Tremors (shaking) are energy costly, as well the excess amount of heat energy body produces, so that is why patients use a lot more energy than healthy individuals.
– Thyroid enlargement that causes the neck to look asymmetrical
Some patients develop goiter, since there is a buildup of a functional hormone in the gland.
– Thin, delicate skin and irregular fingernail/ hair growth
Skin may appear thin, dry and vulnerable, discrete desquamation may occur. Nails may be brittle, and have uneven growth. In extreme cases, onycholysis (splitting the nail bed from the nail plate). Hair appear to be dry and sometimes hair loss occurs.
– Menstrual cycle changes
Irregular menstruations or decreased flow is a common symptom of hyperthyroidism.
Due to the high metabolic speed, physiological sleep patterns may be disrupted.
– Digestion problems, especially increased bowel movements
While it is not easy to answer the question what is a normal bowel movement dynamic, patients with hyperthyroidism report bowel movements that are more frequent than before.
Because of the fat deposits that develop behind the eyeballs, protrusion of the eyeball may occur, so the patient looks like he is staring. Eyes may look uneven- one appears to be larger than the other one. Comparing with a few years old photo can help, whether or not exophthalmos has been developing lately.