A Overactive thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism) is a disorder of the thyroid function. Due to various causes, this leads to an increased formation of hormones in the thyroid gland. This oversupply by the hormones then leads to complaints and symptoms. Weight loss, hair loss and profuse sweating are typical of an overactive thyroid.
Infogram on the anatomy and position of the thyroid gland, as well as the symptoms of hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. Click image to enlarge.
With the label Hyperthyroidism is called a high centralization of thyroid hormones in the body. The most important hormonal gland in the human body is the thyroid. In addition to the thyroid hormones thyroxine and triiodothyronine, it also produces calcitonin.
All thyroid hormones contain iodine and also work in almost all body cells. The energy metabolism is stimulated by these thyroid hormones. If the thyroid gland increasingly produces the hormones thyroxine and triiodothyronine, an excessive hormone effect takes place on the individual organs.
The pituitary gland (pituitary gland) can no longer regulate this. In this case, one speaks of an overactive thyroid or hyperthyroidism.
The forms of Hyperthyroidism usually have different causes. In the autoimmune disease, the immune system incorrectly makes antibodies that lead to an overactive thyroid. This autoimmune disease is referred to as Graves' disease in medical circles. Women are more often affected than men. The exact causes of this hyperthyroidism are not known. However, it is believed that this form of hyperthyroidism can be inherited.
Another form of hyperthyroidism is autonomic hyperthyroidism. One of the most common reasons for this overactive thyroid is an iodine deficiency. This deficiency leads to an enlargement of the thyroid gland and often nodular changes occur here, which allow hormones to develop without any control. With this type of hyperthyroidism, hormone production becomes independent. The management and control of the pituitary gland is not necessary here.
The more rare causes of an overactive thyroid can be, for example, inflammation of the thyroid gland or tumors of the pituitary gland. Likewise, insensitivity to thyroid hormones or the intake of iodine-containing drugs that cause hyperthyroidism.
Graves' disease is an autoimmune disease. The protruding eyes, palpitations and an enlarged thyroid are particularly noticeable. The main reasons for this autoimmune disease are genetic causes, infections by viruses and external influences (e.g. environmental conditions, food).
Why the thyroid gland produces more hormones has not yet been thoroughly researched. So far we only know that autoantibodies are formed that try to mimic the thyroid hormones.
A healthy thyroid is controlled by the brain to make hormones. In the case of thyroid autonomy, this control no longer takes place and the thyroid gland manages itself, so to speak. The most common cause of this is again iodine deficiency. However, the whole thyroid is not always affected. Individual areas can also be affected by thyroid autonomy.
Because of the excessively produced thyroid hormones, the body works at full speed. The overactive thyroid affects the metabolism, the vegetative nervous system and the organs. Therefore, the signs of this disease are very diverse and often unspecific.
Often several symptoms contribute to a suspected hyperthyroidism. The following signs, such as psychological abnormalities such as mood swings, inner restlessness and nervousness, as well as concentration disorders and aggressiveness, offer an increased likelihood of an overactive thyroid being present.
Cardiovascular disorders that lead to an increased heart rate, high blood pressure and cardiac arrhythmias can also occur. Sometimes sleep disorders are also possible. A rise in body temperature, excessive sweating and hypersensitivity to heat are also possible
In addition, other symptoms can be caused by an overactive thyroid. These include weight loss without changing the feeling of hunger and diarrhea. It can also cause muscle cramps and unnatural tremors. Changes in the skin can occur in which the entire skin feels moist, warm and velvety soft.
An overactive thyroid can also lead to hair loss and brittle fingernails. Over a long period of time, untreated hyperthyroidism can cause bone changes. If you have sugar problems, you may also need more insulin.
An external sign may be an enlargement of the thyroid gland (goiter / goiter), which is caused by thyroid autoantibodies. Menstrual cycle disorders can also be considered as symptoms in women. A reduced libido, erectile dysfunction and eye problems are also possible symptoms. The feeling of thirst may increase due to an overactive thyroid.
The course depends on the causes of the Hyperthyroidism. Graves' disease usually resolves itself, but can reappear after a few years. Nevertheless, the doctor should be consulted in any case.
The thyroid autonomy does not recede and the thyroid gland continues to enlarge. Immediate medical treatment is necessary as this can result in a life-threatening situation. If the overactive thyroid gland persists for a long time, the risk of complications increases. These can also affect other parts of the body.
One of the most common sequelae of hyperthyroidism is the formation of a goiter. This is the enlargement of the thyroid gland. If the goiter is not treated medically and continues to grow unhindered, there is a risk of physical impairment. There is also the risk that lumps will develop, which in extreme cases can degenerate into malignant tumors. Therefore, they must always be examined by a doctor.
The thyrotoxic crisis is considered to be the most serious effect of the overactive thyroid. It leads to a life-threatening exacerbation of hyperthyroidism and manifests itself as vomiting, high fever, diarrhea, sweating, increased pulse rate, restlessness and muscle weakness. If these complaints are not treated, further complications such as confusion and impaired consciousness threaten.
In the worst case, the patient's circulatory system fails and he falls into a coma. For this reason, the thyrotoxic crisis is a life-threatening emergency situation, so that intensive medical care must take place immediately. The causes of the thyrotoxic crisis are different.
It usually arises from an excess of iodine, such as in X-ray contrast media. Other reasons can be additional illnesses, anesthesia, severe infections or accidents. An additional consequence of hyperthyroidism is a stroke, which is triggered by an abrupt onset of insufficient blood supply to the brain.
A doctor should be consulted as soon as the patient becomes unwell or becomes more and more unwell. A feeling of illness, inner weakness or severe weight loss for no understandable reason are worrying and should be clarified. Hair changes, thinning hair, or hair loss are other signs that indicate hormonal imbalance and should be presented to a doctor. If the person concerned suffers from heavy sweats despite normal physical activity and unpleasant night sweats develop, an examination is required.
Fluctuations in mood, changes in the color of the voice or abnormal sexual desire are also indications of a health irregularity. If behavioral problems, an aggressive demeanor, impaired concentration and a decrease in cognitive performance are found, a doctor should be consulted. Irregular heartbeats should be examined and treated as soon as possible so that no complications arise. High blood pressure, high body temperature, or hypersensitivity to heat should be presented to a doctor.
If the person concerned complains of diffuse muscle complaints, cramps, trembling of the limbs and changes in the complexion, a doctor should be consulted. Changes in vision, erectile dysfunction and irregularities in the female cycle are cause for concern. Thirst and diarrhea are also among the symptoms that should be triggered by an overactive thyroid and monitored by a doctor.
As a rule, a possible Hyperthyroidism determines the hormones in the blood. A later treatment is then with medication that is supposed to inhibit the increased production of hormones. It is not uncommon for an operation to be carried out in which the thyroid gland is reduced in size and thus fewer hormones can be produced. Radioiodine therapy has also shown good results.
There are different treatment approaches depending on the form and severity of the hyperthyroidism. As a rule, all therapies against an overactive thyroid are well tolerated and effectively ameliorate the symptoms of the overactive thyroid. The excessive production of thyroid hormones can be inhibited through the administration of medication such as thyreostatics.
By taking the anti-thyroid drugs for an overactive thyroid, the thyroid function calms down and there is a slight weight gain, which was prevented by the overactive thyroid. In some cases, the patient with an overactive thyroid is prescribed beta blockers. These are intended to suppress unpleasant symptoms such as tremors, palpitations, fears, etc.
The metabolism can normalize in about one to two months. In the case of an overactive thyroid, regular check-ups and checking of the thyroid values are useful.
If the thyroid gland is severely overactive or if the anti-thyroid drugs do not work, radiation, radioiodine therapy or even surgery may be necessary. With radio-iodine therapy, the patient receives a radio-iodine gelatin capsule individually dosed. With sufficient fluid intake, the radioiodine stays longer in the body.
If radioiodine therapy is used in the case of an overactive thyroid, there are special centers or practices that carry out this type of therapy. In particularly severe cases of hyperthyroidism, surgery can be recommended. This is then referred to as a thyroid resection. If an overactive thyroid is to be operated on, part or all of the thyroid will be removed.
The causes of a Hyperthyroidism are not predictable. Therefore, preventive measures are in principle not available. If the cause of the hyperfunction is an overdose of iodine or other hormones, the exact amount should be checked and adjusted here.
Since the overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) can have different causes, there are only limited effective measures to prevent such a dysfunction.
An adequate iodine supply can be useful to prevent an overactive thyroid. Usually this is the best prevention against lump formation or high thyroid growth. In the case of an overactive thyroid, Graves' disease is insufficient.
If the overactive thyroid has to be treated surgically, follow-up care plays an important role. It takes some time for the patient to recover from the procedure. Ultimately, the duration of the healing process also depends on the type and scope of the operation.
It usually takes one to two weeks for the patient to be able to return to their work place and their usual activities. During this period, no heavy objects may be lifted in order to avoid straining the neck.
The so-called fast-track concept is used so that recovery after the surgical procedure runs optimally. It starts immediately after the operation and includes an optimized treatment of the pain, a quick supply of food and the early mobilization of the patient. Furthermore, drains, catheters and infusions should be avoided as soon as possible.
If there is tension, physiotherapy exercises and putting on mud packs can help alleviate them.Sometimes special breathing, inhalation and cold applications are performed. From the first day the patient is allowed to move freely in the hospital ward. You can usually leave the clinic after two to four days.
The hyperthyroidism is usually treated with medication by the attending physician. Self-help in everyday life is based on the symptoms that often make the clinical picture so unpleasant. It can alleviate this, but without being able to positively influence the underlying disease. Self-help in everyday life is therefore primarily aimed at the patient's well-being.
Overactive patients often sweat quickly and have poor heat tolerance. This can be remedied by cool, well-ventilated rooms. A classic sign of hyperfunction are often restless states or feelings of fear, which are often associated with palpitations or palpitations. Protection is the wrong way to go here. On the contrary, moderate endurance training is often a means of efficiently countering the symptoms of hyperthyroidism.
The metabolism is often significantly increased when the thyroid is overactive. This can also affect digestion and cause diarrhea. These can of course be treated with flea seed supplements. The lack of fluids caused by diarrhea can be replaced with water and herbal teas.
Stress and excitement is a common trait of the often restless thyroid patients who are overactive. The progressive muscle relaxation according to Jacobsen or yoga help to calm down again. Regular and well-dosed endurance training is also recommended for a sleep that really brings relaxation.