In a laymen’s language, hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid hormone is ‘over-active’. Going by what medical experts have to say, hyperthyroidism is a condition wherein the over-active tissues in the thyroid gland causes over-production of thyroid hormone – thyroxine-T4, and triiodothyronine-T3, thereby increasing the level of thyroid hormone in the blood.

Located in the posterior part of the neck, thyroid gland is considered to be one of the most important organs of the endocrine system. It functions to produce thyroid hormones – T3 & T4, which control the way how each cell in the body utilises the energy generated by the body. The entire process is known as metabolism. Hence, in a nutshell, thyroid hormones regulate the metabolism in the body.

Hyperthyroidism during pregnancy:
It occurs in nearly 0.2 to 0.4% of expectant mothers. Thyroid hormones may suddenly increase during pregnancy, it is a natural process. Hence, many women may suffer from hyperthyroidism during their pregnancy. However, if the condition is uncontrollable, it may prove risky for the health and well-being of foetus as well as mother. So, it is highly important to get the thyroid-hormone test done during the first trimester of pregnancy.

Symptoms of hyperthyroidism:
The various symptoms of hyperthyroidism are:

  • Fatigue
  • Restlessness
  • Frequent bowel movement
  • Nervousness
  • Difficulty in concentrating
  • Increased sweating
  • Increased appetite
  • Goitre
  • Weight-loss
  • Irregular menstrual flow
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Intolerance of heat

Causes of hyperthyroidism:
The various causes of hyperthyroidism are:

  • Excessive intake of thyroid hormone
  • Abnormal secretion of Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone (TSH)
  • Excessive intake of iodine
  • Inflammation of thyroid gland, also known as thyroiditis
  • Toxic multi-nodular goitre
  • Grave’s disease – disease caused by general over-activity of thyroid gland
  • Tumours of ovaries or testes

Your health care provider may insist on a physical examination, if he/she finds symptoms of hyperthyroidism. If you suffer from hyperthyroidism, your tests may reveal enlarged thyroid glands, increased heart rate, hyperactive reflexes or tremors. The first number in your blood pressure reading may also be high, which is also known as systolic blood pressure and your blood test may show increased level of thyroid hormone.

The treatment of hyperthyroidism depends on its symptoms and severity. The various treatments given to the patient suffering from this disease are antithyroid medication and radioactive iodine (destroys thyroid; stops over-production of hormones). In some cases, doctors even prefer to remove the thyroid through surgery. In such cases, once the thyroid is removed, the patient will have to be on thyroid hormone replacement pills for the rest of his/her life.

By the age of 60 years, around 60% of men and 40% of women start snoring