What Causes Hyperparathyroidism and What’s the Treatment?

Updated on January 17, 2022

Hyperthyroidism is used to describe the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of having too much thyroid hormone.

It is an autoimmune disease that causes hyperthyroid symptoms in the body that are hard to diagnose without extensive lab work, including elevated heart rate, high blood pressure, tremors, trouble sleeping, and weight loss.

Studying the parathyroid anatomy can reveal this disease. Read on to know more about this disease, symptoms, and treatment methods.

What Causes Hyperthyroidism?

According to a 2016 report, the prevalence of hyperthyroidism was 0.8 percent in Europe and 1.3 percent in the US.

Here are a few causes of hyperthyroidism.

Graves Disease

Graves disease is an autoimmune disorder that causes the thyroid gland to produce too much thyroid hormone.

It causes weight loss, shaking, trembling, and trouble sleeping. It also causes bulging eyes (Graves ophthalmopathy), heat sensitivity, and swollen eyelids.

A blood test can detect Graves disease within the first year after symptoms.

Treatment for Graves disease involves medications to reduce thyroid hormone production, radioactive iodine therapy, or surgery to remove the thyroid gland.

Toxic Multinodular Goiter

It happens when multiple growths in the thyroid gland due to abnormal immune system response. It may cause both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.

Treatment for toxic multinodular goiter depends on the severity of symptoms and includes medications, radioactive iodine treatment, or surgery to remove all or part of the thyroid gland.

Postpartum Thyroiditis

It happens when a woman develops inflammation in the thyroid after giving birth. The onset is sudden after delivery. It can be seen in the parathyroid anatomy.

The condition is usually temporary, and symptoms include fever, chills, and sometimes a transient low-grade fever called “postpartum thyroiditis.”

Treatment involves medications to reduce thyroid hormone production.

Thyroid Storm

A thyroid storm is a rare and life-threatening medical emergency caused by extremely high levels of thyroid hormones in the blood.

Symptoms include high fever, fast heart rate, vomiting, dehydration, and delirium. Patients need an emergency treatment of intravenous medications like beta-blockers to slow the heartbeat and corticosteroids to reduce inflammation.

They also require IV fluids, oxygen support, and close monitoring of vital signs until symptoms resolve. Recurrent thyroid storms can be prevented with beta-blockers.

Pregnancy and Graves Disease

Some pregnant women develop hyperthyroidism due to Graves disease during pregnancy (called gestational thyrotoxicosis).

The condition occurs in about 1 in 1000 pregnancies and usually disappears after delivery.

Treatment for this disorder involves antithyroid medications such as methimazole or propylthiouracil during pregnancy.

A child born to a mother with Graves disease has an increased risk of developing the disorder themselves. Due to the underlying autoimmune condition, people who develop postpartum thyroiditis are also more likely to develop hyperthyroidism in future pregnancies.

How Is Hyperthyroidism Diagnosed?

The most standard test used to diagnose hyperthyroidism is a thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) stimulation test.

It measures the amount of TSH produced by the pituitary gland in response to elevated thyroid hormones. It helps distinguish between hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism, which can have similar symptoms. Treatment for both conditions is different.

A complete blood count (CBC) can detect anemia that results from hyperthyroidism and a high calcium level that contributes to the symptoms of this disease. An elevated white blood cell count may indicate a thyroid gland infection.

A urine test can help diagnose postpartum thyroiditis and toxic multinodular goiter by measuring protein levels in the urine.

Treatment For Hyperthyroidism

Treatment for hyperthyroidism depends on the severity of symptoms, age, and patient preferences. It also will depend on the cause of the condition.

Treatment options include antithyroid drugs to slow the production of thyroid hormones, medications to block the effects of thyroid hormones, and surgery to remove all or part of the thyroid gland.

Another option is radioactive iodine therapy (RAI). RAI treatment involves eating a small amount of medication that provides radiation targeted at the thyroid gland.

The approach slows or stops the production of thyroid hormones and, after months, shrinks the gland.

RAI treatment can also cause hypothyroidism, so it’s usually given to patients who don’t tolerate antithyroid medications well or need quick relief from severe symptoms because they’re older or have a medical complication.

Patients should also follow a special diet when taking antithyroid medications. Some foods and drugs interfere with the absorption of these medications in the intestines, causing them to remain in the body and become toxic.

Other dietary restrictions include not eating large amounts of soy-based products such as tofu because they contain goitrogens, which can interfere with thyroid hormone production.

Final Thoughts

Hyperthyroidism is a disorder that interferes with the average production and regulation of thyroid hormones. It’s possible to have hyperthyroidism but not know it for years or even decades because symptoms often develop gradually.

It’s essential to get a prompt diagnosis of hyperthyroidism because this condition can affect nearly every system in the body.

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The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.