What are the Symptoms of Thyroid Disease

Hyperthyroidism: Signs & Symptoms

The organs and functions influenced by the thyroid hormones work at full speed when the thyroid is overactive. Nevertheless, it is difficult to recognize the disease, as the symptoms are usually unspecific and do not always occur together. Almost all signs are due to the increased metabolism and the close interaction of the hormones with the autonomic nervous system.

As Guiding symptoms the following complaints apply:

  • Psychological signs: nervousness, aggressiveness, mood swings, sleep disorders
  • Cardiovascular disorders: temporarily or constantly increased pulse, cardiac arrhythmias, high blood pressure, feeling of constriction in the heart area
  • Increased body temperature, hypersensitivity to heat, sweating

There are also a number of other signs:

  • Weight loss despite feeling very hungry
  • Muscle spasms and tremors
  • diarrhea
  • Moist, warm, velvety skin
  • Brittle fingernails and hair, hair loss
  • Bone changes in the sense of osteoporosis, but only in the case of long-standing, untreated hyperthyroidism
  • Menstrual cycle disorders
  • Functional disorders of other glands, in terms of other autoimmune diseases e.g. B. adrenal insufficiency (Addison's disease), type 1 diabetes, rheumatic diseases, etc.
  • If you have diabetes: increased need for insulin

An overactive function can be accompanied by an enlargement of the thyroid gland (goiter or goiter). This enlargement can be caused by the stimulating thyroid autoantibodies. However, it can also occur without enlargement, i.e. the size and function of the thyroid are not directly related to one another.

In the elderly A number of the typical symptoms can relatively often be missing (so-called oligo- or mono-symptomatic form of hyperthyroidism). Often the symptoms are less pronounced and therefore rather untypical for hyperfunction. For example, only an increased heart rate or a cardiac arrhythmia or an isolated weight loss, which then suggests a malignant underlying disease, can occur. All of these symptoms can occur in all forms of overactive thyroid.

Graves disease

Graves' disease is the typical form of immune-related hyperthyroidism with eye symptoms. It was named after the Merseburg doctor Karl von Basedow (1799-1854) who researched the disease and documented it in the specialist literature of the time. Almost at the same time, this disease was also described for the first time in Great Britain and has since been referred to as "Graves' disease" in the Anglo-Saxon countries after the first description there.

Graves' disease is characterized by three main symptoms, which are referred to as the "Merseburg triad":

  • Differently pronounced goiter formation (goiter), i.e. enlargement of the thyroid tissue, sometimes even with lumps, e.g. in the iodine deficiency area
  • Protrusion of the eyeballs (exophthalmos), fixed gaze with further changes, e.g. eyelid swelling and conjunctivitis (endocrine orbitopathy). If the optic nerve is involved, there is even a risk of blindness.
  • Increased heart rate (tachycardia with heart rates over 100 beats per minute) and other cardiac arrhythmias.

In addition, the complaints mentioned above are also observed.