Hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid gland, is a condition that causes the body to produce too much of the thyroid hormone thyroxine. The symptoms of hyperthyroidism are typically mild and include weight loss despite increased appetite, anxiety, irritability, insomnia, and heat intolerance. Hyperthyroidism can also lead to heart disease due to its ability to increase blood pressure and contribute to high cholesterol levels.
Common Tests to Diagnose Hyperthyroidism
Many tests for hyperactivity exist, but it may be difficult for people without severe symptoms or those with poor health literacy skills to accurately interpret results if they do not know which tests to take.
Some of the most common diagnostic tools for hyperthyroidism include:
• Thyroxine blood test
The most common tests for hyperactive thyroid involve measuring the concentration of thyroxine in the blood (T4). However, this test is not always accurate because it can be affected by factors such as medications and certain medical conditions that cause changes in the concentrations of TSH or thyroxine.
• Radioactive iodine uptake (RAIU) test
A tracer injection containing trace amounts of radioactivity is given intravenously, followed by two scans done at least four hours apart. This nuclear medicine scan helps determine if there is an overproduction or underproduction of hormones in your thyroid gland.
• Thyroid scanner
A diagnostic test that uses a very small amount of radioactive iodide swallowed before being scanned to determine if the thyroid gland is overactive.
How To Prepare for A Test for Hyperactivity Disorder?
Knowing what to expect before, during, and after taking any type of medical test can make you more comfortable and less stressed. Some things you may want to consider include:
What medications are being taken?
It might be necessary for you to stop certain medications before getting tested as they could interfere with results or change levels of hormones in your body which could affect how testing works. When stopping the medication, it’s best not to do so without first talking with your doctor about possible effects on hyperthyroidism symptoms such as anxiety, high heart rate, or nervousness.
What specific tests are being used, and how should they be taken?
It’s best for all individuals to ask their doctor questions about what is expected of them, such as fasting before taking certain medical exams. Knowing ahead of time helps reduce the stress that may affect results.
Predisposing Factors for a Hyperactive Thyroid
Many factors are believed to cause hyperthyroidism, but it is not always clear what exactly causes the condition. Some of these predisposing factors include:
- Having Graves’ disease – an autoimmune disorder where antibodies produced by your immune system target and stimulate thyroid cells to produce extra hormones leading to hyperactivity in the gland.
- Surgical removal of part or all of the thyroid gland as well as radiation therapy for cancer treatments can sometimes lead to overproduction of thyroxine.
- Gender- females are more likely than males to develop hyperthyroidism.
- Age- incidence increases with age, particularly after age 60.
- Family history – having a family member with thyroid disease can increase your risk of developing the condition.
- Obesity – being overweight can put you at a higher risk for developing the condition.
- Smoking – people who smoke are more likely to develop hyperthyroidism than those who do not.
What Is the Treatment for Overactive Thyroid?
People with mild cases might be treated using lifestyle changes such as eating healthier and exercising, while those with severe symptoms may need medications like beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, and anti-thyroid drugs. However, there is no specific treatment for hyperactivity because the condition must be treated based on an individual’s symptoms as well as health history. Some of these treatments may include:
- Radioactive iodine therapy – a common choice in cases where an overproduction of thyroxine threatens to cause serious side effects such as heart problems or changes to bone structure. This type of medication works by destroying thyroid cells that have been overproducing hormones. Sometimes taking this medicine can lead to hypothyroidism (under production).
- Surgical removal – A procedure known as total thyroidectomy involves removing all or part of your gland, causing it not to produce enough hormones anymore, thus reducing levels back.
Hyperthyroidism can cause serious problems if not treated properly, including high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, which could lead to heart disease or strokes in some people. If you suspect your thyroid gland is overactive and experiencing symptoms described above, make an appointment with our doctor, who might refer you for testing depending on the severity of symptoms. Tests exist, but it may help know which ones to take before going through with them. For more information about hyperthyroidism tests and treatment, please reach us at 205-352-9141.