I don’t like hospitals. I don’t think I know anyone who likes hospitals, but I don’t like them at all. Something I have in common with my dad. Hospitals are crammed with ill people, who need to be made better. That’s the main reason I don’t like them, illness.
Unfortunately, I have to routinely attend a hospital every few months for a consultant visit. A few years ago I was diagnosed with Hyperthyroidism due to a condition known as Graves Disease. If you know what Hyperthyroidism is, you’re probably wondering why I have a problem losing weight, it’s because I’ve had it under control. That was until recently anyway.
What is Hyperthyroidism?
Hyperthyroidism is essentially a condition where the thyroid gland in your body is producing too many hormones. The thyroid gland is found at the front of your neck and it is responsible for producing hormones that control a whole variety of things like your heart rate and body temperature.
If your body produces too many of these hormones it can cause problems with your body’s natural balance of operation. Symptoms can be unpleasant and it can cause potentially serious problems that need to be treated.
A common cause of Hyperthyroidism is Graves Disease. This is where the white blood cells in your body attack your thyroid gland. This is the cause of my Hyperthyroidism. As my white blood cells have attacked my thyroid, my thyroid has become enlarged and thus is producing more hormones than my body needs.
There are varying symptoms with Hyperthyroidism. Some are;
- Nervousness, anxiety and/or irritability (because I need help in this department – note the sarcasm)
- Mood swings
- Difficulty sleeping
- Persistent tiredness and weakness
- Sensitivity to heat
- Swelling in the neck from an enlarged gland
- Irregular and/or unusually fast heart rate
- Twitching or trembling
- Weight loss
Before I was officially diagnosed a few years ago, my wife and I noticed at least 3 of the above symptoms before I saw a GP about it.
A little history about me
After I was diagnosed by my GP following some blood tests I was referred to a consultant for treatment. At the time I was prescribed Carbimozle – a common medication for stopping the thyroid gland from producing too many hormones. I took the medication for around 18-months then stopped.
Since then I have been monitored by the consultant via blood tests and visits every 3 or 4 months. Last week I had another of my routine visits to the consultant. I haven’t been showing any of the symptoms as before, or any others from the above list. But, just like every time I go, I was still nervous. I am always scared the results are going to come back and my levels will have increased.
This time, I had every right to be nervous. My T3 hormone levels are on the rise again and are above normal ranges. My T4 hormone is still within normal levels, but it’s the T3 hormone that is responsible for most symptoms in Hyperthyroidism.
I had further blood taken last week to rule out it being an anomaly. But I am certain that I will be getting a call this week to start the medication again.
I was given three options for treatment going forward;
- Carbimazole medication: this medication comes with its own side effects and other cons. Recent studies have shown that taking this medication for a longer-term (4-5 years) can cure the Hyperthyroidism rather than just balance it – but the longer-term effects are still unknown as it’s still a recent study.
- Radioactive Iodine treatment: probably the most effective treatment, but it means I won’t be living at home for a little while. As this is a radioactive treatment I can’t be around the kids for a week or longer as they are young.
- Surgery to remove part of the gland: I’ve never had surgery before. The thought of having surgery petrifies me. not something I will consider lightly – especially given that if it doesn’t work I’ll then be looking at the Radioactive Iodine treatment anyway.
So, as well as being at risk of Type 2 Diabetes (see previous posts about that), my body is also slowly attacking my thyroid gland and causing a host of different issues for me to contend with.
On the plus side, losing weight should be a little easier in the interim – I should make the most of that before I start any treatments again.