The thyroid produces a hormone called thyroxine. They control many bodily functions, including metabolism, internal temperature, heart and digestive function, muscle control, and weight regulation.
Overproduction of thyroxine leads to increased metabolism, which can trigger symptoms such as irregular or rapid heartbeat, unexpected weight loss, sweating and irritability.
Introduction to Hyperthyroidism (Overactive Thyroid)
Hyperthyroidism, also known as thyrotoxicosis, is overactivity of the thyroid gland, which results in overproduction of thyroxine hormone. The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in the neck, which produces thyroxine and triiodothyronine hormones.
These hormones control many bodily functions, including metabolism, internal temperature, heart and digestive function, muscle control, and weight regulation. Overproduction of thyroxine leads to increased metabolism, which can trigger symptoms such as irregular or rapid heartbeat, unexpected weight loss, sweating and irritability.
Hyperthyroidism can be treated using medication, radioiodine therapy, radiofrequency ablation (a minimally invasive treatment) or surgery. In this post, we explain more about hyperthyroidism, including its causes, risk factors, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment.
Who is Predisposed to Hyperthyroidism?
Anyone can develop hyperthyroidism, but some people are at a higher risk than others. In this section, we answer two popular questions about hyperthyroidism – how common it is and the groups most likely to develop the condition.
How Common is Hyperthyroidism?
Hyperthyroidism affects 5-10% of Singapore’s population, out of which women are five times more likely to develop the condition than men. In the United States, the prevalence is 1% among those aged 12 years and older.
What Groups are Likely to Develop Hyperthyroidism?
People with an increased risk of hyperthyroidism include:
- Elderly persons aged 60+ years
- Individuals with a family history of thyroid disease
- Patients who had thyroid surgery
- Pregnant or nursing women who had a baby in the last six months
- Individuals who consume foods or drugs with large amounts of iodine
- Those who use nicotine products
Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism
Symptoms of hyperthyroidism may differ from one person to another. Common ones include:
- Anxiety and nervousness
- Weight loss
- Frequent bowel movements
- Fast heartbeat
- Trembling hands
- Increased sensitivity to heat
- Irregular menstrual patterns
- Muscle weakness
- Weak hair
Hyperthyroidism can also cause complications such as heart problems, weak bones, and thyroid eye disease.
Diagnosis of Hyperthyroidism
Hyperthyroidism is diagnosed in various ways, including physical exams, blood tests and imaging.
- Physical exam: The doctor examines the neck to feel the thyroid, check the eyes, skin, and hands, and listen to your heart rate
- Blood tests: The doctor takes a blood sample to check thyroid hormone levels. Higher levels may indicate hyperthyroidism.
- Imaging tests: The doctor examines the thyroid using imaging tests such as radioactive iodine uptake (RAUI), thyroid ultrasound, and thyroid scan.
Various treatment options are available for hyperthyroidism, including:
The doctor may prescribe beta-blockers or anti-thyroid drugs. Beta-blockers like propranolol and atenolol help reduce symptoms by blocking the effect of thyroid hormone, but they do not cure hyperthyroidism. Similarly, anti-thyroid drugs minimize the symptoms by blocking the production of thyroid hormones.
The treatment involves taking a capsule or liquid orally. Radioiodine therapy destroys the thyroid hormone cells and may take several months to take effect. Unlike taking medication, radioiodine therapy is localized and does not affect other body tissues.
Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA)
Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is a minimally invasive treatment of thyroid nodules that targets radio waves on the hyperthyroidism-causing nodules. This stops their cell activity, and they reduce in size. Understand the symptoms, prevention, causes, risk factors, and more of thyroid nodules and radiofrequency ablation (RFA) as a minimally invasive treatment option in our other blog post.
Surgery involves removing most or part of the thyroid gland, which helps normalize hormone levels. Thyroid surgery is a rare treatment option, mainly used on pregnant women and patients with protruding goitres.
Reach Out for Hyperthyroidism Treatment in Singapore
Left untreated, hyperthyroidism can interfere with many body functions and affect your quality of life. No matter the cause of the condition, be it a health condition such as Graves’ disease, genetics, or family history, a thyroid nodule specialist can help you explore your treatment options and provide treatment.
The Advantages of RFA of Thyroid Nodules
The major advantages of the technique are as below.
- It is done as day surgery procedure under light sedation.
- It takes about 45 minutes to one hour to complete the entire procedure.
- Patients are discharged the same day.
- Normal thyroid tissue adjacent to the nodule is preserved.
- It does not affect thyroid function.
- Multiple nodules can be treated at same time.
- The treated nodules do not regrow again.
- No surgical scar with needle mark on the skin.
- Quick recovery and back to full activity and normal lifestyle.
- The technique is suitable to treat even large thyroid nodules.
Read more about the Supreme Vascular and Interventional Clinic’s management and treatment of thyroid nodule radiofrequency ablation (RFA).
Read More About Thyroid Nodules on Our Blog
To dive deeper into the types of thyroid nodule treatments, head over to our clinic’s blog.
Read our recommended thyroid nodule related blog posts to stay informed.
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