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Thyrotoxicosis Information

Thyrotoxicosis is a condition in which the thyroid gland produces excess thyroid hormone (thyroxine) which results in effects on the whole body. Females are much more commonly affected than men. The common causes of thyrotoxicosis have different pathophysiologic features, which include autoimmune disease, functioning thyroid adenoma, and infection. Hyperthyroidism or thyrotoxicosis occurs when the thyroid releases too many of its hormones over a short (acute) or long (chronic) period of time. Many of the clinical features of thyrotoxicosis are characterised by signs of sympathetic overactivity such as tremor, tachycardia, and sweating producing weight loss, fatigue and heat intolerance. This can occur in the setting of specific disorders that affect the thyroid gland. It can also occur when a patient is taking an excessive dose of pharmacologic thyroid hormone. In hyperthyroiditis, symptoms generally resolve in 3-20 weeks. However, in this condition, hyperthyroidism may be followed by a period of hypothyroidism and then euthyroidism (normal thyroid function). People with thyrotoxicosis usually hate warm weather and frequently have a prominent staring appearance, due to the effect of thyroid hormone on the tissues behind the eyes. Blood tests can quickly confirm the diagnosis.

Untreated, thyrotoxicosis can lead to serious medical complications such as heart rhythm disturbances and Osteoporosis, caused from the long-term effects of hormone overproduction. Thyrotoxicosis is extremely common, affecting perhaps 2 to 5% of all females at some time in their lives. Sometimes a nodule develops within the gland and works independently from the rest of the gland. If the nodules produce lots of thyroid hormone, then hyperthyroidism may develop. There are other rare causes of hyperthyroidism. Differentiating between thyrotoxicosis caused by hyperthyroidism and thyrotoxicosis not caused by hyperthyroidism is important because disease management and therapy differ for each form. The period or periods of thyrotoxicosis in hyperthyroiditis are caused by an increased release of pre-formed thyroid hormone that is already stored in the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland in hyperthyroiditis causes thyrotoxicosis but not true hyperthyroidism, which refers to a hyper-functioning gland. Toxic multinodular goiter usually develops in older people who may have had hypothyroidism. Deliberate intake of high doses of thyroid hormone leads to TSH suppression and shrinkage of the thyroid, so that no thyroid tissue is palpated. Because this is an inflammatory disorder, treatment usually consists of anti-inflammatory medicines, including glucocorticoid steroids.

Causes of Thyrotoxicosis

The common causes and risk factor's of Thyrotoxicosis include the following:

  • A generalised enlargement of the thyroid (Graves' disease).
  • Inflammation of the thyroid resulting in release of excess thyroid hormone.
  • Ingestion of excessive iodine.
  • Patients taking excess thyroid hormone.
  • An ectopic tumour that produces excessive amounts of TSH causing overactivation of the thyroid.
  • Non-cancerous growths of the thyroid gland or pituitary gland.

Symptoms of Thyrotoxicosis

Some sign and symptoms related to Thyrotoxicosis are as follows:

  • Weight loss.
  • Rapid heart rate.
  • Increased appetite.
  • Intolerance of heat, and excessive sweating.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Frequent bowel movements.
  • Lack of menstruation.
  • Skin blushing or flushing.
  • Bounding pulse.

Treatment of Thyrotoxicosis

Here is list of the methods for treating Thyrotoxicosis :

  • Thyrotoxicosis is usually treated with antithyroid medications, radioactive iodine (which destroys the thyroid and stops the excess production of hormones).
  • Propylthiouracil 600mg loading dose may be used.
  • Beta-blockers like propranolol are used to treat some of the symptoms including rapid heart rate, sweating, and anxiety until the hyperthyroidism can be controlled.
  • Another treatment that is sometimes used is the injection of radioactive iodine ( a longer lasting isotope than is used for scanning) which is concentrated in the thyroid gland and results in damage to and destruction of some of the cells of the thyroid.
  • Surgery may be used to remove the thyroid.


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