The thyroid gland, located in the front part of the neck, produces hormones that control metabolism. Metabolism involves how quickly your body is able to function and produce energy from food and nutrients. Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland creates too much of the thyroid hormone or releases too much of the hormone because of inflammation or damage. Because the thyroid gland affects the body's metabolism, a malfunctioning or injured thyroid gland will cause many health issues for a patient with hyperthyroidism.
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Because hyperthyroidism involves the metabolism, many symptoms will involve things one may imagine would happen if bodily processes are forced into overdrive, or to speed up. Symptoms differ according to the severity of hyperthyroidism and the age of the patient. Furthermore, the condition begins slowly, hence early symptoms can easily be misinterpreted to be caused by stress and/or other health problems.
A condition known as, "Graves disease", is one of the most common causes of hyperthyroidism, causing more than 70% of all cases. Graves' disease is believed to be genetic, or run in families, and it is most common among young women. Antibodies produced by the immune system work to fight foreign matter that cause diseases in the body, but if a patient has Graves' disease, these antibodies will stimulate the thyroid and make it produce too much hormones, resulting in hyperthyroidism.
The symptoms described above will alert a doctor that a patient may have hyperthyroidism. Simple tests that will be initially performed will be checking for an enlarged thyroid gland and assessing the most noticeable symptoms (e.g. rapid pulse, shaking or tremor in fingers and hands, and moist skin).
These blood tests will also be conducted during hyperthyroidism treatment to assess whether or not the treatment plan is effective.
Treatment for hyperthyroidism varies depending on the severity of the medical condition. There are three main treatments for hyperthyroidism.
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