Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland is overactive and makes too much thyroid hormone. Some people have a genetic predisposition to hyperthyroidism. It is more common in older people and females.
The thyroid gland is an organ in the neck. It
People with hyperthyroidism produce too much T4 and T3 hormone.
This article discusses the genetics of hyperthyroidism. It describes hyperthyroidism and its genetic component, causes, and risk factors. The article also details the symptoms, treatment, and complications of hyperthyroidism.
Many cases of hyperthyroidism arise because an individual has a mutation in one or more genes. These mutations alter typical thyroid function, causing it to produce too much T4 and T3. It is not exactly clear why these genetic mutations arise.
Scientists are continuing to discover the mutations that can lead to hyperthyroidism. A 2021 study lists some genes that may play a role in hyperthyroidism. These include:
The same study notes that genetic factors might account for 79% of an individual’s predisposition to develop Graves’ disease. Graves’ disease is a very common cause of hyperthyroidism.
Thyroid hormones have several roles within the body. This means that hyperthyroidism causes many different symptoms. According to a
- enlarged thyroid gland or goiter
- heart palpitations
- shortness of breath
- muscle weakness
- increased sweating
- irregular menstrual cycle
- weight loss
- heat intolerance
Several of these symptoms arise as increasing T3 and T4 levels increase metabolic activity.
Learn how hyperthyroidism symptoms vary in males and females.
There are many possible causes of hyperthyroidism. They
- thyroiditis, which is inflammation of the thyroid gland
- iodine overexposure
- excess thyroid hormone medication, which doctors prescribe for hypothyroidism — an underactive thyroid
- other medications, such as lithium and amiodarone
- a noncancerous tumor on the pituitary gland
Some health conditions can also lead to hyperthyroidism. For example, Graves’ disease and toxic nodular goiter are common causes of hyperthyroidism.
Hyperthyroidism can affect anyone who has a functioning thyroid gland. However, some risk factors make the condition more likely to develop.
The condition is
- having a family history of hyperthyroidism
- having a high iodine intake from foods such as seaweed or seaweed supplements
- taking medications containing iodine
- using nicotine products
- having been pregnant within the past 6 months
- having other health conditions such as:
- pernicious anemia
- type 1 or type 2 diabetes
- primary adrenal insufficiency, a hormone disorder
Research suggests that pregnant individuals have an increased risk of developing hyperthyroidism. According to the
People with hyperthyroidism who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant should talk with a doctor about managing their condition.
First-line treatment is usually a beta-blocker such as atenolol (Tenormin). Other treatment options include calcium channel blockers such as verapamil (Verelan/Calan) if a person can not tolerate a beta-blocker.
Doctors may recommend the following methods to treat the underlying cause of hyperthyroidism:
- thionamide therapy
- radioactive iodine therapy
- subtotal thyroidectomy
A specific treatment plan will depend on an individual’s symptoms and the underlying cause of their hyperthyroidism.
Hyperthyroidism can cause complications, some of which can be serious. As a
- atrial arrhythmia, where the upper chambers of the heart, or atria, beat out of rhythm with the lower chambers, or ventricles
- ventricular arrhythmia, where the ventricles do not pump blood efficiently
- atherosclerotic vascular disease
- heart failure
- Graves’ ophthalmopathy, an eye
- osteoporosis and muscle issues
- menstrual cycle and fertility issues
Without treatment, hyperthyroidism can develop into thyroid storm, a life threatening form of hyperthyroidism. There are many possible reasons why hyperthyroidism can become thyroid storm. These
- thyroid surgery
- cardiovascular disease
Some people also develop thyroid storm because they abruptly stop taking antithyroid medication. This medication functions to suppress thyroid activity.
Anyone concerned about hyperthyroidism should speak with a doctor. This is especially important for people at an increased risk of hyperthyroidism.
If someone’s hyperthyroidism symptoms suddenly worsen, they should seek immediate medical attention. A sudden worsening of symptoms could indicate the beginning of thyroid storm.
The outlook for people with hyperthyroidism is fairly positive, and treatment can successfully manage the symptoms.
If a person does not receive treatment, the condition could develop into thyroid storm, putting a person’s life at risk. Experts suggest that the mortality rate from thyroid storm could be as high as
Hyperthyroidism is a potentially serious condition with a strong genetic component.
People with hyperthyroidism have an overactive thyroid gland that produces too much thyroid hormone. It causes symptoms such as goiter, heart palpitations, and shortness of breath.
Pregnant people have an increased risk of hyperthyroidism and should work with a doctor to manage the condition during pregnancy.
Treatments for hyperthyroidism are effective and can prevent the condition from leading to complications, such as thyroid storm.