One of the first references to the thyroid gland in Western medicine is in 1656 when it was thought that the main function of the thyroid gland was to lubricate the trachea. It was also believed to have a cosmetic function in women. Paintings going back to ancient Egypt often emphasize the size of the thyroid gland in women. In the early 1800s, the thyroid was thought to be a vascular shunt to divert the blood flow from the brain. In 1811, cancer of the thyroid was the first disease of the thyroid to be described.
In patients with the syndrome of hyperthyroidism, tissues are exposed to over large amounts of thyroid hormones. Thyrotoxicosis was originally a clinical term that described the appearance of affected patients, who have tachycardia, warm moist skin, and raised body temperature. Thyrotoxicosis is used to refer to any condition in which there is an excessive amount of circulating thyroid hormone, irrespective of whether the hormone leaks from a damaged gland (thyroiditis), is secreted by the gland (Graves' disease), or is exogenous (factitious thyrotoxicosis). However, the difference between hyperthyroidism and thyrotoxicosis does not necessarily clarify the pathophysiology or treatment of each condition (Cooper 2003). In rare cases, hyperthyroidism can cause a serious medical condition called thyroid storm, which develops when the thyroid gland releases huge amounts of thyroid hormones in less time. Thyroid storm is mostly by a stressful event or a serious illness, such as a major infection (What happened? 2005). ...Show more