Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland produces excessive amounts of thyroid hormones. It can cause facial flushing, swelling, skin thinning, and bulging eyes.
Thyroid hormones control essential body functions such as breathing, digestion, body temperature, and heart rate. High levels of thyroid hormones can affect a person’s health and may require medical treatment.
There are several causes of hyperthyroidism, including autoimmune disorders, the presence of thyroid nodules, or the use of certain medications.
Read on to learn more about the most common hyperthyroidism facial symptoms, how to manage them, treatment options, and more.
Thyroid hormones are responsible for supporting the typical functions of the outermost layer of the skin, also known as the epidermis. As a result, the skin is often the first place a person notices signs of thyroid hormone imbalance.
One of the most common symptoms is warm, moist skin. According to one older 2012 study of people with thyroid disease, more than
The following facial signs and symptoms can also occur:
- facial flushing
- swollen face and neck
- bulging eyes
- skin thinning
- rashes or urticaria
- hidradenitis suppurativa — small, painful lumps
- eye redness, dryness, or vision disturbances
- skin hyperpigmentation
In addition to the symptoms above, people with hyperthyroidism may experience other less noticeable symptoms. Some of these include:
- unintentional weight loss
- increased appetite
- excessive sweating
- nervousness or irritability
- muscle weakness
- sleep issues
- heat intolerance
- hair loss
- rapid and irregular heartbeat
- frequent bowel movements or diarrhea
- increased thirst
- irregular menstrual periods
- loss of interest in sex
These symptoms vary depending on the individual’s age, physical condition, and the severity of the thyroid issue.
If not treated, hyperthyroidism can lead to more severe health issues, such as:
Treatment for hyperthyroidism depends on the underlying cause. A doctor will also consider the severity of the disease and the characteristics of the individual when creating a treatment plan. In some cases, a person may not require any treatment.
- Antithyroid medications: These medications lower the amount of hormone the thyroid gland makes. One example is methimazole (Tapazole).
- Beta-blockers: These medications control certain symptoms associated with hyperthyroidism, such as a racing heart, trembling, and anxiety. One example is atenolol (Tenormin).
- Radioactive iodine therapy: Usually, a person will take radioactive iodine orally. The medication enters the thyroid cells from the bloodstream and destroys them. This results in an underactive thyroid, so the person must receive lifelong thyroid hormone replacement therapy.
- Surgery: Thyroidectomy is the surgical removal of the thyroid gland.
Doctors usually recommend surgery if antithyroid medication or radioactive iodine therapy is not a viable option for an individual.
Hyperthyroidism is treatable, and its management requires careful medical evaluation. Early treatment can help prevent life threatening complications such as heart disease.
Treatment aims to achieve typical thyroid hormone levels, improve symptoms, and avoid overtreatment.
As with any disease, outcomes vary depending on the cause, an individual’s characteristics, and treatment adherence. One study found that 45.3–96.3% of people with Graves’ disease, the most common cause of hyperthyroidism, achieve remission after the first-line treatment.
However, treatment can have the opposite effect. In some cases, it may result in hypothyroidism, another disease that occurs when thyroid hormone levels are lower than usual. In this case, medication is necessary.
If a person has signs of thyroid disease, they should contact a doctor. Many symptoms of hyperthyroidism are also signs of other health conditions, so it can be difficult to identify. Therefore, seeking a professional diagnosis is essential.
Only a trained physician can identify and diagnose hyperthyroidism.
People living with hyperthyroidism should contact a doctor regularly to monitor their condition. They should also inform a doctor if they notice fluctuations in their weight, mood, or mental state.
In hyperthyroidism, one of the most affected organs is the skin, with manifestations on the person’s face, including swelling, rashes, and redness. The eyes may also appear to protrude.
Proper treatment can help reduce the symptoms and restore typical thyroid hormone levels.