Making the Diagnosis
In most cases, a thorough physical exam and a simple blood test are all it takes to determine whether you're suffering from hyperthyroidism.
The more challenging aspect of a diagnosis is figuring out the type of hyperthyroidism you have, which is critical to determining your treatment. A comprehensive diagnosis then involves several components.
Before any blood is drawn, your doctor should engage you in a conversation about your health. Some signs of hyperthyroidism are easily measured or observed by a physician, such as your pulse or bulging eyes. But it's up to you to tell your doctor about the symptoms — those he can't see or measure — that you are suffering.
Perhaps you're perspiring more than usual. Or maybe your once-wavy hair can no longer hold a curl. Maybe you're having trouble sleeping and are feeling anxious. All these are symptoms of hyperthyroidism. The information you provide is critical to helping him weed out other disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder and low blood sugar.
Keep in mind, too, that a history of hyperthyroidism increases the odds that you'll have it again. Candace, for example, had a recurrence ten years after her first episode.
Her first bout was the result of subacute thyroiditis after a viral infection. She shed thirty pounds in a month and had severe pain in her neck, a racing heart, tremors, and anxiety. After several months on beta-blockers, the condition disappeared, and Candace was fine for ten years. Then she had poison ivy and developed hives. She began to lose weight again, and felt anxious and had trouble concentrating. Although she initially blamed her symptoms on stress, a visit to her doctor told her otherwise — Candace had hyperthyroidism again.