Baffling weight loss, rapid heartbeat, possible sign of thyrotoxicosis — Expert


A Consultant Endocrinologist, Dr. Temilola Akande, says unexplained weight
loss and rapid heartbeat may be signs of a condition called thyrotoxicosis.

Akande, who is a Physician at University College Hospital Ibadan (UCH), said this during a webinar organised by the Thyroid Care Association of Nigeria (TCA), in commemoration of the World Thyroid Day (WTD).

According to reports the day is annually marked on May 25 to raise awareness about the thyroid and highlight the importance of timely diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disorders related to this organ.

The global observance, which has “It’s not you. It’s your thyroid’’ as theme for the 2022 celebration, is also dedicated to patients suffering from thyroid disorders and researchers engrossed
in the study and treatment of these diseases worldwide.

As it is essential to understand how thyroid disorders affect patients and what can be done to alleviate their pain.
The World Day focused on thyroid disorders and the necessary steps to cure it before it causes any complication.

The UCH consultant endocrinologist explained that the thyroid gland is the hormone that helps the different organs of the body to function properly.

She added that “the thyroid gland is a small butterfly-shaped gland in the neck, also called the hormone of metabolism that makes the body active.

“It helps the heart to beat well, it helps the brain to function and it produces hormones that affect body temperature and metabolism.”

Akande, however, added that “thyrotoxicosis is a condition in which you have too much thyroid hormone in your body,” noting that there are several forms of thyrotoxicosis, including Graves’ disease.

“The commonest thyrotoxicosis is called Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disorder in which the body is fighting itself and your immune system attacks your thyroid gland, causing it to make more thyroid hormones than your body needs.

“Also, there is what is called solitary thyroid nodules, which is characterised by a discrete swelling of the thyroid gland, it appears like a lump and can be caused due to acute bacteria or viral infection.

“And of course, there is multinodular goiter.”

Akande also said that “sometimes when people inadvertently use thyroid hormone drugs, thyrotoxicosis could be triggered in such persons.

“Some weight loss pills can also cause thyrotoxicosis, especially when the body already secretes enough thyroid hormones.

“Hypertensive drugs and some cough syrup that contain iodine can also trigger thyrotoxicosis,’’ she said.

She identified weight loss, rapid heartbeat, increased perspiration, irritability, increased bowel movement and anxiety as some symptoms of thyrotoxicosis.

“Some people just find out that they are losing weight despite the fact that they overeat, while some will complain of restlessness, poor sleep and palpitations, as if they are afraid of something.

“Thyrotoxicosis can also worsen cardiovascular illness and lead to heart failure because it causes the heart to work excessively.

“It can also affect the female reproductive system and cause menstruation to cease,’’ she said.

She said that the swelling in the front of the neck is also a manifestation of thyrotoxicosis.

“Almost every organ of the body is affected, it is important for people to seek appropriate professional help.

“Treatment of thyrotoxicosis is different for each individual and it is important to see a doctor and not resort to self medication,’’ she advised.

Dr Adefemi Afolabi, the Founder, Thyroid Care Association of Nigeria, said thyrotoxicosis is a treatable condition and people should not hesitate to seek medical intention.

Afolabi, who is a Consultant Surgeon at the UCH, explained that symptoms and treatment of thyrotoxicosis vary from person to person.

He advised people to shun self medication and go for regular medical checks for early and accurate detection of diseases.