Managing Thyroid Problems in Children – Understanding Hyperthyroidism 

Hyperthyroidism or an overactive thyroid, is the term for a range of conditions which affect the thyroid’s hormone production. An over-production of these hormones results in a more active metabolism and a variety of symptoms. These can be relativity minor to potentially life-threatening. Examples include a fast heart rate, weight loss, poor concentration or anxiety and sweating.  

Managing a sick child’s care is always a challenging time, so using Top Doctors to find a specialist and the correct diagnosis can be a welcome comfort. Most cases are treated with medication but some serious varieties require radioactive iodine or surgery. 

Varieties of Hyperthyroidism 

Many different types of diseases fall under the general definition of hyperthyroidism, all of which can be diagnosed and treated by finding a local endocrinologist in London. One of the most common is Graves’ disease, discovered and named after Sir Robert Graves. Graves’ disease occurs when a child’s immune system creates antibodies which causes the thyroid to produce an excess of hormones. It is more frequently seen in girls and teenagers, and those with family members afflicted by autoimmune diseases. 

Hyperfunctioning thyroid nodules are a separate form of hyperthyroidism. The nodules, usually benign (non-cancerous), are growths which cause the thyroid to produce extra hormones. Often the condition of the nodules are checked before treatment with fine needle aspiration. 

Thyroiditis is an inflammation of the thyroid which causes additional hormone leakage into the bloodstream. The vast majority of thyroiditis cases are painless and are repaired without intervention, but a minority of children may find them painful (known as subacute thyroiditis). 

Thyroid storm is an extremely rare and dangerous variety of Hyperthyroidism. This version is notable for the severely high levels of the thyroid hormone and worrying symptoms. High fever, irregular heart beat, dehydration and even death can occur. Treatment involves an intensive care visit including a mixture of steroids, beta-blockers or non-radioactive iodine.

Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism

Due to the varying levels of severity and causes of hyperthyroidism, symptoms are similarly variable. Extreme levels of thyroid hormones may not cause the most significant symptoms, and vice versa. Signs to look out for include elevated heart rate, enlarged thyroid gland (goiter), tremors or shaking, fatigue, increased appetite, anxiety or poor school performance, general irritation, increased blood pressure and reduced menstrual cycles in young women. 

Pregnancy and Hyperthyroidism

While pregnancy itself does not appear to affect women with the condition, hyperthyroidism may have a negative impact on the health of the mother and child. Hypertension, for instance, has been shown to occasionally occur.

Certain antibodies produced by mothers with maternal hyperthyroidism can affect unborn babies, resulting in a case of neonatal Graves’ disease. This may cause a preterm birth or low birth weight, but only occurs in around 1% of births by mothers with a history of Graves’ diseases/autoimmune disease. It should, however, be monitored during and after pregnancy. Unmonitored cases may have a significant impact on either mother or child.



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