Some Serious Complications Of Hyperthyroidism

Thyroid hormones play an important role in the normal functioning of various vital organs of the body. They are produced by the thyroid gland, gland located at the lower part of the neck and these hormone stimulates the metabolism of cells. The thyroid gland removes the iodine from the blood and uses it to produce thyroid hormones. The two most important thyroid hormone are thyroxine and triiodothyronine and when these hormones are released into the bloodstream, a large amount of thyroxine is converted into triiodothyronine. The production of thyroid hormone is controlled by the pituitary gland and when the human body is exposed to excessive amount of thyroid hormone, it is known as hyperthyroidism.

Sometimes, hyperthyroidism is also known as thyrotoxicosis as it is a technical term which is used to describe the high amount of thyroid hormones in the blood stream. When hyperthyroidism develops it also leads to the occurrence of various symptoms such as irregular heartbeat, tremors, anxious, frequent bowel movements, and changes in menstrual pattern. There are several causes of hyperthyroidism such as Grave’s disease, thyroid nodules, and thyroiditis. Grave’s disease, also known as toxic diffuse goiter is considered to be the most common cause of hyperthyroidism. Hyperthyroidism can be serious and is associated with various complications and these complications are as follows.

Thyrotoxic Heart Disease

Numerous studies have described the effects of hyperthyroidism on the cardiovascular system. Thyroid hormone acts on all the organs of the body but on heart, even a slight change in the concentration levels of the hormone can have adverse effect. In fact, cardiovascular signs are considered to be the alarming symptoms of hyperthyroidism. Hyperthyroidism, often leads to an increased heart rate, myocardial contractility, and cardiac output and these symptoms occur due to the hormone triiodothyronine. Triiodothyronine is the only active hormone at the molecular level and has genetic and extragenic effects on the blood vessels and myocardium. Hyperthyroidism can become a cause of pre-existing cardiac disease due to increased myocardial oxygen demand, increased contractility and heart rate. It also contributes to endothelial dysfunction, coronary artery disease and heart failure.

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Thyroid Associated Ophthalmopathy

The effects of hyperthyroidism can also be seen on the eyes and an uncontrolled hyperthyroidism can develop severe thyroid associated ophthalmopathy. Thyroid associated ophthalmopathy, or thyroid eye disease is an ocular condition that is frequently associated with hyperthyroidism and is also the common extrathyroidal manifestation of Graves’ disease. Grave’s disease is one of the most common cause of hyperthyroidism and it is characterized by the diffuse goiter and dermopathy. Usually, the symptoms of thyroid eye disease are mild and the most common symptoms include ocular irritation with redness and tearing,, sensitivity to light, double vision, blurring of vision, and feeling a pressure sensation behind the eyes. It may also include symptoms such as foreign body sensation, epiphora, palpebral and conjunctival hyperemia and edema, blurred vision, and retro orbital pain.

Thyroid Storm

Thyroid storm is one of the condition that requires emergent treatment and it is characterized by multiple organ failure due to severe hyperthyroidism. It is a life threatening condition that is accompanied by the loss of consciousness, high fever, heart failure, diarrhea, and jaundice. Since multiple organ failure is a characteristic of thyroid storm, it becomes a common cause of death. Thyroid storm is more commonly in women as compared to men and grave’s hyperthyroidism remains the most associated cause of this disease. Some of the common symptoms of thyroid storm include altered mental status, cardiovascular complications, high systolic blood pressure, low diastolic blood pressure and congestive heart failure, diffuse muscle weakness, tremor.

Thyrotoxic Hypokalemic Periodic Paralysis

Hyperthyroidism can also be associated to various muscular disorder such as thyrotoxic hypokalemic periodic paralysis. Thyrotoxic hypokalemic periodic paralysis is a medical emergency condition that is characterized by the episodic muscle weakness. Various channels such as sodium, chloride, calcium, and potassium channels on cell membranes are responsible for membrane excitability and muscle contractions. Patients having thyrotoxic hypokalemic periodic paralysis experiences a triad of muscle paralysis and it is accompanied by the symptoms that are related to hyperthyroidism. This disorder usually occurs in the late night or early morning and the duration of this disease can last for hours to days. The severity of the attack ranges from mild weakness to paralysis and prodromal symptoms may include aches, cramps, and stiffness. In thyrotoxic hypokalemic periodic paralysis, the involvement of the motor system begins from the lower limbs and moves to the upper limbs. The management of hyperthyroidism is the most important step in the treatment of thyrotoxic hypokalemic periodic paralysis. Therefore antithyroid drugs are often recommended to the patients having this disorder.


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