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Thyroid disorders: clinical features and diagnosis

By Jessica Lloyd, MRPharmS, Patricia Yerbury, DipClinPharm, MRPharmS, and Victoria Ruszala, DipClinPharm

Geoff Kidd/Science Photo Library Appropriate thyroid function is essential for normal metabolism. Hyperthyroidism is characterised by weight loss, sweating and tremor, whereas hypothyroidism can cause weight gain, constipation and dry skin 



The thyroid produces thyroxine (T4) and tri-iodothyronine (T3), both of which are essential for normal metabolism. Hyperthyroidism — a condition in which the body overproduces thyroid hormones — is characterised by palpitations, agitation, tremor, anorexia and weight loss. Patients with hypothyroidism do not produce sufficient amounts of thyroid hormone. This results in symptoms such as depression, fatigue, constipation, weight gain and hypothermia.    

Thyroid disorders are diagnosed, primarily, by measuring serum levels of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) and free thyroxine (FT4). However, other investigations, such as thyroid scans, may also be required.

Jessica Lloyd is a rotational pharmacist and Victoria Ruszala is a teacher practitioner pharmacist, both at North Bristol NHS Trust. Patricia Yerbury is cardiac lead pharmacist at King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.


Citation: Clinical Pharmacist URI: 11088333

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