Hyperthyroidism, a less common thyroid disorder, occurs when the thyroid gland becomes overactive and produces too much thyroid hormone. It affects approximately one to two million Americans, and is more prevalent among women, particularly those in their 30s and 40s. The most common form of this disorder is Graves’ Disease.
Signs and Symptoms
An overactive thyroid may often causes irritability, atrial fibrillation, congestive heart failure, osteoporosis, nervousness, sleep disturbance, muscle weakness, tremors, enlarged thyroid (goiter), irregular menstrual periods, heat intolerance, weight loss, vision problems, or eye irritation.
Treatment of an overactive thyroid may be complex and requires a long-term care plan. Once diagnosis is confirmed, treatment involves reducing the amount of thyroid hormone produced by the gland. Treatment methods for hyperthyroidism include antithyroid drug therapy, which blocks thyroid hormone production; radioactive iodine treatment, in which the overactive thyroid is disabled and reduced in size; and thyroid surgery to remove part or all of the gland, which is usually used to treat very young patients with Graves’ disease and older patients with diseased thyroid glands.
Radioactive iodine therapy is currently the treatment of choice in most cases in the United States. Our clinic is the only endocrine office in Austin that administers radioactive iodine onsite for your convenience. Patients are given a dose of radioactive iodine that essentially “shuts down” thyroid hormone production. Normal hormone levels must often be restored through levothyroxine sodium tablets. These patients require careful lifetime management to ensure they are receiving the proper dosage of thyroid medication.
Surgery is a good option for some, especially if a nodule is present and has a suspicious Fine Needle Aspiration.