What Is Hyperthyroidism In Cats
Feline hyperthyroidism is an extremely common condition that occurs when the thyroid gland in the neck becomes overactive. The thyroid glands produce a hormone that controls the animals metabolic rate i.e how the body uses energy. The brain controls the level of thyroxine by telling the thyroid gland how much to make.
Growth in the thyroid gland can cause hyperthyroidism, producing more active cells. However, these cells can develop out of control and instead produce thyroxine continually instead of the amount that is needed. High levels of thyroxine in cats can force the body into overdrive. The body is kept constantly at an unnaturally high level of energy, which places enormous strain on other systems, including the heart.
Left untreated, cat hyperthyroidism can be fatal and early diagnosis is key to ensuring other organs are not affected. Fortunately, there are several treatment options available that can help to manage an overactive thyroid in cats effectively.
Is It Possible To Gain Weight If You Have An Overactive Thyroid
Something that can be confusing to patients is the fact that it is possible to have an overactive thyroid but also experience weight gain.
This is confusing because an overactive thyroid should lead to weight loss, at least that’s one of the main symptoms associated with this condition.
So how is it possible to gain weight?
The answer comes when we discuss how an overactive thyroid is treated.
The treatment for hyperthyroidism or excessive thyroid hormone production is to BLOCK this from happening.
What happens if you block thyroid hormone production and conversion?
And this makes sense if you think about it for a minute:
The goal when treating an overactive thyroid is to block how much thyroid hormone your body is using.
But is your Doctor going to be able to perfectly balance thyroid hormone production and conversion in your body with medication?
And the logic goes that as long as you are not overactive it’s okay to be a little bit underactive.
But the problem with having an underactive thyroid is that you potentially switch from losing weight to gaining weight.
So the weight gain is from the TREATMENT of your thyroid, not secondary to the overactive thyroid itself.
It’s better to think about weight gain as a consequence of treatment rather than a side effect or symptom of having an overactive thyroid.
How Do You Treat It
The goal of treating an overactive thyroid is two-fold:
First to block thyroid hormone production in an attempt to “normalize” thyroid levels in the body.
And second, to fix the underlying problem .
Fixing the underlying problem is always the best way to go, but some conditions are not necessarily “fixable”.
Even though you may know that your overactive thyroid is caused by Graves’ disease you may not be able to get your immune system under control, even with natural therapies and treatments.
Patients who fall into this category may require more long-term treatments such as radioactive iodine ablation or complete removal of the thyroid gland.
You can find a complete list of treatments for overactive thyroid below:
- Natural Therapies – Natural therapies can also be used either by themselves or in conjunction with the other therapies listed above. Natural therapies include dietary changes, supplementation with specific nutrients, the use of certain medications and the use of high doses of Iodine. You can learn more about natural therapies here.
The exact type of treatment or therapy that you need will depend on your individual situation.
You can discuss all of these options with your current Doctor.
Please also note that not all patients are great candidates for natural treatments for an overactive thyroid.
In some cases, it may be dangerous to forgo conventional hyperthyroid therapies in favor of more natural therapies.
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Diagnostic Tests Of The Thyroid Gland
Doctors first examine the person and feel the persons neck to see whether the thyroid gland is enlarged.
Depending on the results of the examination, other tests may also be needed. Additional testing may also be necessary in rare cases in which doctors cannot determine whether the problem lies in the thyroid or in the pituitary gland.
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Favorite Hyperthyroidism Online Support Networks
While weve found numerous blogs related to thyroid health, Drugs.com is one of the few places that offers online networking specifically for people with hyperthyroidism. Here you can post questions and provide helpful insights to other hyperthyroid patients who need advice. While youre there, you can read up on some of the latest hyperthyroidism-related news from Drugs.com.
This resource aims to educate people about Graves disease. Topics you can read up on include general treatments, anti-thyroid drug experiences, symptom relief, complications, and more.
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What Is A Swollen Thyroid
Anatomically speaking, the thyroid gland, located at the front portion of the neck, is part of the endocrine body system. A swollen thyroid or medically termed as goiter is an enlargement of the thyroid gland. Furthermore, people who suffer from a swollen thyroid are occasionally battling against hypothyroidism. However, there are actually a lot of reasons which cause the thyroid gland to swell. These reasons will be explained later in the discussion on the causes for a swollen thyroid.
How Long After My Thyroid Is Removed Will My Tiredness Go Away
Typically, you will be given medication to help with your symptoms right after surgery. Your body actually has thyroid hormone still circulating throughout it, even after the thyroid has been removed. The hormones can still be in your body for two to three weeks. Medication will reintroduce new hormones into your body after the thyroid has been removed. If you are still feeling tired after surgery, remember that this can be a normal part of recovering from any type of surgery. It takes time for your body to heal. Talk to your healthcare provider if you are still experiencing fatigue and other symptoms of thyroid disease after surgery.
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Are There Any Risks To Hyperthyroidism Treatments
With most treatments, there are also risks of side effects. Its important to talk to your healthcare provider and weigh all of the pros and cons before deciding on a treatment plan. Some of these risks include:
After treatment, you will most probably need to take replacement thyroid hormone for the rest of your life. This is because some of these treatments especially surgery reduce your thyroid hormone levels to very low levels or eliminate this hormone by removing your thyroid. Youll need to re-introduce the thyroid hormones back into your system by taking regular medication.
Other Causes Of Hyperthyroidism
Functioning adenoma and toxic multinodular goiter
As we age, lumps or nodules may form in the thyroid gland. Usually, these lumps do not produce thyroid hormones and require no treatment. Occasionally, a nodule may become “autonomous,” which means that it does not respond to pituitary regulation and produces thyroid hormones independently. This becomes more likely if the nodule is larger than 3 cm. When there is a single nodule that is independently producing thyroid hormones, it is called a functioning nodule. If there is more than one functioning nodule, the term toxic, multinodular goiter is used. Functioning nodules may be readily detected with a thyroid scan.
Excessive intake of thyroid hormones
Taking too much thyroid hormone medication is actually quite common. Excessive doses of thyroid hormones frequently go undetected due to the lack of follow-up of patients taking their thyroid medicine. Other persons may be abusing the drug in an attempt to achieve other goals such as weight loss.
Abnormal secretion of TSH
A tumor in the pituitary gland may produce an abnormally high secretion of TSH . This leads to excessive signaling to the thyroid gland to produce thyroid hormones. This condition is very rare and can be associated with other abnormalities of the pituitary gland. To identify this disorder, an endocrinologist performs elaborate tests to assess the release of TSH.
Excessive iodine intake
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Is Hyperthyroidism During Pregnancy A Problem
Thyroid hormone levels that are just a little high are usually not a problem in pregnancy. However, more severe hyperthyroidism that isnt treated can affect both the mother and the baby. If you have hyperthyroidism, be sure your disease is under control before becoming pregnant. Learn more about causes, diagnosis, and treatment of hyperthyroidism during pregnancy.
What Are My Hyperthyroidism Treatment Options
You may receive medicines, radioiodine therapy, or thyroid surgery to treat your hyperthyroidism. The aim of treatment is to bring thyroid hormone levels back to normal to prevent long-term health problems and to relieve uncomfortable symptoms. No single treatment works for everyone.
Treatment depends on the cause of your hyperthyroidism and how severe it is. When recommending a treatment, your doctor will consider your age, possible allergies to or side effects of the medicines, other conditions such as pregnancy or heart disease, and whether you have access to an experienced thyroid surgeon.
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How The Body Adjusts Thyroid Hormones
The body has a complex mechanism for adjusting the level of thyroid hormones. First, the hypothalamus, located just above the pituitary gland in the brain, secretes thyrotropin-releasing hormone, which causes the pituitary gland to produce thyroid-stimulating hormone . Just as the name suggests, TSH stimulates the thyroid gland to produce thyroid hormones. The pituitary gland slows or speeds the release of TSH, depending on whether the levels of thyroid hormones circulating in the blood are getting too high or too low.
What Could Go Wrong With The Thyroid Gland
Normally the thyroid gland produces the exact number of hormones needed to keep your bodys metabolism running and in balance. As described earlier, hormones secreted by the pituitary gland stay constant in your blood circulation, but their levels may increase or decrease when T4 levels in the blood are changing. This hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid feedback loop keeps the levels of T4 in your blood stable and reacts to small changes immediately.
However, there are several disorders associated with the thyroid gland with most problems concerning the production of thyroid hormones. Either the thyroid gland produces too much hormone or your thyroid doesnt produce enough hormone , resulting in your body using energy faster or slower than it should.
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Which Types Of Doctors Treat Hyperthyroidism
Endocrinologists are specialists in diagnosing and treating hormonal disorders such as hyperthyroidism. Primary care physicians, including family practitioners and internists, may also be involved in treating patients with hyperthyroidism. Ophthalmologists and ophthalmic surgeons may be involved in the care of patients with Graves’ disease.
Can Hyperthyroidism Be Cured
Yes, there is a permanent treatment for hyperthyroidism. Removing your thyroid through surgery will cure hyperthyroidism. However, once the thyroid is removed, you will need to take thyroid hormone replacement medications for the rest of your life. Your body still needs thyroid hormones, just not at such high levels as you have in hyperthyroidism. Though you will need to regularly take the medication and check in with your healthcare provider regularly, this is a manageable form of thyroid disease which allows you to live a normal life.
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Risk Factors For An Overactive Thyroid
- A family history of Graves’ disease or autoimmune disorders
- Women are more likely to develop hyperthyroidism compared to men
- A personal medical history of specific chronic illnesses, including type 1 diabetes, pernicious anemia, or primary adrenal insufficiency
- Common viral infections
- Excess iodine intake
Hyperthyroidism Symptoms And Causes
Do you know the difference between hyperthyroidism vs hypothyroidism? Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland becomes overactive. Hypothyroidism means the thyroid is underactive. Both conditions can cause a cascade of problems, because when the thyroid is not working properly, it can throw off many other vital functions of the body.
Doctors see hyperthyroidism in men and women, but this health condition occurs most often in women between the ages of 20 and 40. Hyperthyroidism in children is also possible. But it doesnt stop there its actually a condition that can affect our pets too, with feline hyperthyroidism cases being more prevalent than canine.
Do you think your thyroid is functioning as it should? Many times thyroid problems go unaddressed, especially in cases of subclinical hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism. Is an overactive thyroid serious? Its important to know common signs of hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid, because if left untreated, its a health condition that can cause even more to worry about, including serious heart problems.
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If Part Of My Thyroid Is Surgically Removed Will The Other Part Be Able To Make Enough Thyroid Hormones To Keep Me Off Of Medication
Sometimes, your surgeon may be able to remove part of your thyroid and leave the other part so that it can continue to create and release thyroid hormones. This is most likely in situations where you have a nodule thats causing your thyroid problem. About 75% of people who have only one side of the thyroid removed are able to make enough thyroid hormone after surgery without hormone replacement therapy.
How Are The Causes Of An Overactive Thyroid Diagnosed
The diagnosis of hyperthyroidism may not be obvious at first because symptoms may be mild. If you have symptoms described above, see your doctor for a diagnosis. Your doctor will ask you questions about your symptoms, including whether you are taking any medicines that may cause a high level of thyroid hormones in your body. Your doctor will also examine you and check your thyroid gland.
Some tests your doctor may carry out to help diagnose the cause of an overactive thyroid include:
- a thyroid function test this is a blood test that measures your thyroid hormones and thyroid stimulating hormone
- a blood test to test for TSH receptor antibody if you have Graves disease, this antibody level can be high.
Depending on your blood tests results, a nuclear scan of your thyroid may or may not be done. A nuclear scan can find out whether your thyroid has any nodules and examine the size and shape of your thyroid. You may be referred to an endocrinologist for further testing if the cause is still unknown.
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How Is Graves’ Disease Treated
Doctors usually treat Graves’ disease with anti-thyroid medicines. These medicines slow the release of thyroid hormones from the gland. They usually bring hormone levels down to normal within a couple of months.
Many people with Graves’ disease need to take anti-thyroid medicines for a long time to control the condition sometimes for the rest of their lives.
Some might need other treatment if anti-thyroid medicines don’t help or cause side effects, or if the disease is very hard to control. In these cases, two permanent treatment options can be used: radioactive iodine treatment and surgery.
Radioactive iodine is the most commonly used permanent treatment for Graves’ disease. RAI damages the thyroid gland so that it can’t make too much thyroid hormone. This doesn’t harm other parts of the body. The RAI treatment is taken in capsules or mixed with a glass of water. The thyroid gland quickly absorbs the RAI from the bloodstream and, within a few months, the gland shrinks and symptoms slowly disappear.
Surgery to remove most of the thyroid gland is called a thyroidectomy. It’s done in a hospital under general anesthesia, so the person is asleep and feels nothing. A small incision in the lower central part of the neck usually leaves a thin scar. It’s common to have some pain for a few days after the surgery, but most people feel much better within a few days.
Complications Of Hyperthyroidism In Cats
The longer hyperthyroidism is left untreated, the greater the risk of significant underlying kidney disease. Kidney disease can be managed medically, but cannot be cured, and it has a far more significant effect on your cats welfare and life expectancy than hyperthyroidism.
The heart is another victim of both high blood pressure and being driven to work too hard by hyperthyroidism can lead to heart failure. The heart is a muscle, so when it is forced to work too hard for a long period, it gets bigger. Unfortunately, as the muscle grows, the space inside it for blood gets smaller, and the heart actually becomes less effective.
The changes are irreversible and mean that the heart cannot get as much blood and oxygen around the body as it should. Your cat may become very tired or lethargic, and have a greater risk of having a stroke or heart attack. Medication can help, but the prognosis is guarded for a cat with this type of heart disease.
If you suspect your cat is suffering from hyperthyroidismbook a free consultation with your local Animal Trust surgery to have them examined as soon as possible. Early diagnosis of the condition leads to effective management and ensures that your cat can continue to live a happy and healthy life.
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Hashimotos Diagnosis And Treatment
Testing the level of TSH is often the first step when screening for any type of thyroid disorder. Your doctor might order a blood test to check for increased levels of TSH as well as low levels of thyroid hormone if youre experiencing some of the above symptoms. Hashimotos thyroiditis is an autoimmune disorder, so the blood test would also show abnormal antibodies that might be attacking the thyroid.
Theres no known cure for Hashimotos thyroiditis. Hormone-replacing medication is often used to raise thyroid hormone levels or lower TSH levels. It can also help relieve the symptoms of the disease. Surgery might be necessary to remove part or all of the thyroid gland in rare advanced cases of Hashimotos. The disease is usually detected at an early stage and remains stable for years because it progresses slowly.