Hyperthyroidism may be caused by:
- Graves disease—the immune system attacks cells of the thyroid gland
- One or more thyroid nodules
- Thyroiditis—inflammation of the thyroid
- Taking too much thyroid hormone
Symptoms may show once the thyroid becomes more active. They often come on slowly. Examples include:
- Easily overheated and increased sweating
- Mood swings, nervousness, restlessness, or irritability
- Heart palpitations or rapid or irregular pulse
- Shortness of breath
- Unexplained weight loss despite an increased appetite
- Problems sleeping
- Increase in bowel movements/diarrhea
- Changes or lack of menstrual periods
- Shaky hands
- Dry, red eyes
- Double vision
The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done. Thyroid problems may be suspected. A blood tests will show levels of thyroid hormone. It can also show antibodies if the problems are caused by immune issues. A radioactive iodine uptake test may be done. It can show how well the thyroid is working.
Treatment will depend on what is causing the hyperthyroidism. Options include:
Medicine can calm thyroid activity. It may bring hormone levels down to normal. Medicine may need to be adjusted over time.
Smoking can cause problems with some of the medicine. There are a different tools to help quit smoking.
Reduce or Remove Thyroid
The thyroid normally absorbs iodine. A form of iodine with radioactive material is taken by mouth. The thyroid absorbs the special iodine. The radioactive material damages most of the thyroid cells. This will decrease the amount of hormones made by the thyroid. Hormone replacement medicine may be needed if levels fall too much.
Thyroidectomy is the removal of all or part of the thyroid. It is an uncommon treatment of hyperthyroidism. It may be done if medical therapy fails.
A type of medicine called beta-blockers may help symptoms. It may help to relieve rapid heart rate and nervousness.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
Edits to original content made by Denver Health.
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