Hyperthyroidism - Symptoms
Symptoms of hyperthyroidism may be vague, and often mimic other illnesses and conditions. If someone has a very mild form of hyperthyroidism, they may not notice any symptoms. An overactive thyroid often leads to discomfort or even disability that may disturb their everyday activities or routine. Below is a list of the various symptoms:
- anxiety, nervousness and irritability
- frequent, loose bowel movements
- difficulty sleeping
- double vision
- eyes that bulge out or "protrude" (in patients with Graves' disease)
- hair quality changes, that is brittle hair, thinning of the hair and hair loss
- irregular heart beat (arrhythmia), especially in older adults
- menstrual cycle changes, including lighter bleeding and less frequent periods
- muscle weakness, especially in thighs and upper arms
- rapid growth of fingernails
- rapid heartbeat, usually over 100 beats per minute
- shaky hands
- thinning skin
- weight loss despite an increased appetite
It is important to note that these symptoms can be due to other medical conditions and disorders ranging from simple anxiety to more serious health problems. The best recourse would be to consult our doctors, who will be able to help diagnose the problem and provide guidance.
When to see a doctor
If someone experiences unexplained weight loss, rapid heartbeat, unusual sweating, swelling at the base of the neck or other symptoms associated with hyperthyroidism, they should consult a doctor. It is important to provide a detailed description of the experienced symptoms, because many signs and symptoms of hyperthyroidism may be associated with several other problems.
- Heart problems: some of the most serious complications of hyperthyroidism involve the heart. These include a rapid heart rate, disturbance in the heart rhythm and even heart failure. These complications are generally reversible with appropriate treatment.
- Brittle bones: untreated hyperthyroidism can also lead to weak, brittle bones (osteoporosis). The strength of bones depends, in part, on the amount of calcium and other minerals they contain. Too much of the thyroid hormone interferes with the body's ability to maintain calcium in the bones.
- Eye problems: people with Graves' disease develop eye problems, including bulging, red or swollen eyes, sensitivity to light and blurring or double vision. Untreated, severe eye problems can lead to vision loss.
- Red, swollen skin: in rare cases, people with Graves' disease may get redness and swelling on the skin, commonly on the shin and feet.
- Thyrotoxic crisis: hyperthyroidism also places the patient at a risk of thyrotoxic crisis, a sudden increase of symptoms, leading to a fever, rapid pulse and even delirium. If this occurs, the patient should seek immediate medical care.