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Hyperthyroidism – clinical features and treatment 1. The causes of hyperthyroidism The thyroid is a gland in the neck that produces two thyroid hormones, thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). Thyroxine is inactive and is converted by the tissues and organs that need it into tri-iodothyronine. The role of thyroid hormones, put simply, is to regulate the metabolism of virtually all cells in the body. In health, the production of these thyroid hormones is tightly regulated by the secretion of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH; also known as thyrotropin) from the pituitary gland in the brain. When the thyroid gland becomes affected by disease, sometimes the production or release of thyroxine and tri-iodothyronine can be abnormally high, leading to increased levels in the blood; a state of thyroid overactivity known as hyperthyroidism or thyrotoxicosis. If this happens, the body’s metabolism speeds up and this can be manifest by changes in various, and seemingly unrelated tissues, that are listed below. In this state of hyperthyroidism, a blood test will show an elevated amount of these thyroid hormones circulating. Conversely, the TSH level in the blood almost always becomes s ...
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