Published: Friday, June 23, 2023
Family Medicine

Did you know about 1 out of 100 Americans ages 12 years and older have hyperthyroidism?

What is your thyroid?

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped, small gland in the neck. It makes hormones, which control the way that the body uses energy and affects nearly every organ in the body.

What is hyperthyroidism?

Hyperthyroidism happens when the thyroid makes too much thyroid hormone. This is also known as an overactive thyroid.

Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism symptoms can look like other medical conditions or problems. This can make hyperthyroidism hard to diagnose.

Common symptoms include:

  • Fast heartbeat
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Pounding of the heart
  • Losing weight without trying
  • Increased hunger
  • Tremor, usually in the hands
  • Nervousness, anxiety
  • Sweating
  • Sensitivity to heat
  • Changes in menstrual cycle
  • Changes in bowel patterns
  • Enlarged thyroid gland
  • Muscle weakness
  • Problems sleeping, tiredness
  • Brittle hair

Causes of Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism has several causes, such as thyroid nodules, Graves’ disease, thyroiditis, too much iodine and too much thyroid medicine.

Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disorder that attacks your thyroid and causes it to make an excess of hormones. Thyroiditis is the inflammation of the thyroid, which causes stored thyroid hormone to leak out of the thyroid gland. Too much iodine can cause your thyroid to make too much of the thyroid hormone. Iodine can be found in cough medicines, seaweed and seaweed-based supplements.

Those at higher risk for hyperthyroidism include women, individuals over the age of 60, individuals who have been pregnant within the past 6 months, individuals who have a family history of thyroid disease, individuals who have had thyroid surgery or a thyroid problem, type 1 diabetics and those who ingest too much iodine.

How is hyperthyroidism treated?

To diagnose hyperthyroidism, doctors typically take a look at medical history, conduct a physical exam or thyroid testing. Overactive thyroids are usually treatable. Hyperthyroidism can be treated with radioactive iodine, beta-blockers, antithyroid drugs and surgery.

Radioactive iodine is used to destroy the cells in the thyroid gland, which reduces the amount of hormones the thyroid gland can produce. Radioactive iodine is ingested by mouth as a capsule or liquid. Antithyroid and beta-blocker drugs can help to reduce hyperthyroid symptoms. Surgery may be the best option if the thyroid is severely swollen, you have several eye problems related to your thyroid or your symptoms reappear after trying other treatments.

Learn More

If you have questions about hyperthyroidism, talk to your primary care doctor today. If you don’t have one, you can book an appointment online at NGPG.