About 20 million Americans have problems with their thyroid gland — and about 60% of those people don’t even know it. That’s because thyroid problems often cause subtle symptoms (at least at first), and sometimes, those symptoms can be mistaken for other problems.
Many thyroid conditions, including hyperthyroidism, can trigger serious health problems if not caught and treated early. The team at Desert West Surgery offers this review of five common signs of hyperthyroidism so that you can seek treatment as soon as possible.
#1 Irregular heartbeat
Thyroid hormones affect how your body uses energy, which means they affect your heartbeat. When your thyroid gland produces too many hormones, you can experience a faster-than-normal heartbeat or palpitations, along with arrhythmias, like atrial fibrillation or Afib. Without medical management, Afib can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
#2 Unintentional weight loss
Thyroid hormones also play a significant role in metabolism — the process of breaking down food into calories your body can use. In hyperthyroidism, your body produces an unusually high amount of these hormones, speeding up your metabolism, so you lose weight — even though you’re not dieting, and you may even be eating more than usual. You may also have more bowel movements than normal.
#3 Muscle weakness or shakiness
Excess thyroid hormones affect muscle activity, as well as the nerve activity that controls how your muscles work. Some people with hyperthyroidism have symptoms like shakiness or tremors, or their muscles may feel unusually weak.
#4 Irritability or moodiness
Our moods depend on our body’s chemicals, including the hormones released by the thyroid gland. People with hyperthyroidism may experience an increase in irritability, restlessness, nervousness, or anxiety. As many as 69% of hyperthyroid patients suffer from depression due to their condition.
Some people with hyperthyroidism develop an enlarged thyroid gland, called a goiter. Very large goiters make your neck appear swollen just under your voicebox, and they can interfere with swallowing or breathing. Some goiters cause your voice to sound hoarse.
When thyroid surgery is the right choice
While many thyroid conditions can be managed with medication, there are some instances where thyroid surgery is the best option. Typically, our team recommends surgery in patients with thyroid tumors or growths called“nodules,” growths that can interfere with normal hormone production.
Our team offers three primary surgeries for thyroid problems:
- Total thyroidectomy to remove the entire gland
- Subtotal thyroidectomy to remove most of the gland
- Lobectomy to remove one “side” of the gland
Removing all or most of the thyroid eliminates or significantly reduces hormone output. In those cases, you’ll need to take medication to replace the hormones your thyroid is no longer producing
To learn more about thyroid surgery and its role in managing hyperthyroidism, call Desert West Surgery and schedule an appointment at one of our three locations in Las Vegas, Nevada.