​Hyperthyroidism


Hyperthyroidism is a condition where the thyroid gland produces excess amounts of the hormone thyroxine. This increases the body's metabolism, and can lead to rapid and suddden weight loss, increased heartbeat, excessive sweating and irritability.

The signs and symptoms of hyperthyroidism are similar to those experienced during other health problems. This may make it difficult for your doctor to diagnose the actual disease. Some medications that are used to treat high blood pressure or some other condition can mask many of the signs of hyperthyroidism.

Hyperthyroid signs and symptoms may include:

  • Sudden unexplained weight loss

  • Rapid heartbeat, irregular heartbeat or pounding of your heart

  • Increased appetite

  • Nervousness, anxiety and irritability

  • Trembling in your hands and fingers

  • Sweating

  • Changes in menstrual patterns

  • Increased sensitivity to heat

  • Changes in bowel patterns, especially more frequent bowel movements

  • An enlarged thyroid gland which may appear as a swelling at the base of your neck

  • Fatigue, muscle weakness

  • Difficulty sleeping

  • Skin thinning

  • Fine, brittle hair

Consult our team of internationally trained medical specialists working with the Internal Medicine Service Line at the Aga Khan University Hospital if you notice any of the above signs and symptoms.

For a preliminary examination, you can also consult a doctor working with the Family Health Services at The Aga Khan University Hospital.

Your time with your doctor may be limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here are some tips to help get you started.

To diagnose hyperthyroidism your doctor may do the following:

  • Take a full medical history and perform a physical exam.

  • Ask for some blood tests to measure the level of TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) and sometimes the level of the thyroid hormone thyroxine.

If blood tests indicate hyperthyroidism, your doctor may ask for one of the following tests to help determine why your thyroid is overactive:

  • Radioactive iodine uptake test in which you are asked to orally ingest radioactive iodine. The iodine collects in your thyroid gland and at fixed intervals the amount of iodine used up by the gland is measured. High uptake of iodine indicates increased production of thyroxin by the thyroid gland.

  • Thyroid scan in which a special camera and radioactive isotope, injected in your vein, is used to produce images of your thyroid to be studied by the doctor.

There are several treatment options for hyperthyroidism. The doctor will select the best treatment for you depending on your age, physical condition and the severity of your disorder. Treatment options could include the following:

  • Radioactive iodine taken by mouth causes the thyroid gland to shrink and symptoms to subside, usually within three to six months. Radioactive iodine has been used for more than 60 years to treat hyperthyroidism and has been shown to be generally safe.

  • Anti-thyroid medications that prevent your thyroid gland from producing excess amounts of hormones. A small number of people may be allergic to these drugs and may develop skin rashes, hives, fever or joint pain. These drugs can also make you more susceptible to infection.

  • Beta blockers are drugs that are commonly used to treat high blood pressure. In this case, whilst they will not reduce your thyroid levels, they can reduce a rapid heart rate and help prevent a pounding heart.

  • Surgery to remove the thyroid gland (thyroidectomy). If you are pregnant or cannot tolerate anti-thyroid drugs and do not want or cannot have radioactive iodine therapy, you may be a candidate for thyroid surgery, although this is an option in only a few cases.

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.
 
The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.
 
The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments’ costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.


The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.