What is hyperthyroidism?


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Know the basics

What is hyperthyroidism?

Hyperthyroidism is an illness caused by a thyroid gland that is too active. The thyroid gland is located in the neck and makes thyroid hormone that control many activities of the body. Some function of thyroid gland include monitor calcium rate in blood, strengthen the metabolism, stimulates the activity of the heart, nervous system and regulate body heat. But too much hormone will cause symptoms of hyperthyroidism.

How common is hyperthyroidism?

Hyperthyroidism is a common disease. Three times more women than men have this disease. You can minimize the chance of having hernias by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Know the symptoms

What are the symptoms of hyperthyroidism?

Symptoms include nervousness, sweating, fatigue, and fast or skipped heartbeat or other heart rhythm abnormalities, such as a trial fibrillation. Others are eye irritation, weight loss, sensitivity to heat, and frequent bowel movements or diarrhea. People with Graves’s disease have an enlarged thyroid gland (goiter) and may have bulging eyeballs (exophthalmos).

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

If you experience unexplained weight loss, a rapid heartbeat, unusual sweating, swelling at the base of your neck or other symptoms associated with hyperthyroidism, see your doctor. It is important to completely describe the changes you have observed, because many signs and symptoms of hyperthyroidism may be associated with a number of other conditions.

If you have been treated for hyperthyroidism or currently are being treated, see your doctor regularly as advised so that he or she can monitor your condition.

Know the causes

What causes hyperthyroidism?

The most common cause is a condition called Grave’s disease. This disease causes 80% to 90% of cases.

Other less common causes include thyroiditis, toxic adenoma, and using too much thyroid medicine. Thyroiditis is inflammation of the thyroid. An adenoma is a thyroid tumor that makes thyroid hormone. Sometimes the cause isn’t known. This illness can run in families, but it’s not contagious.

Know the risk factors

What increases my risk for hyperthyroidism?

Hyperthyroidism, particularly Graves’ disease, tends to run in families and is more common in women than in men. If another member of your family has a thyroid condition, talk with your doctor about what this may mean for your health and whether he or she has any recommendations for monitoring your thyroid function.

Understand the diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is hyperthyroidism diagnosed?

The doctor can make a diagnosis from the medical history, physical examination, and blood tests to measure blood thyroid hormone levels. The doctor may also order a thyroid scan or ultrasonography to get pictures of the thyroid gland. The doctor may also suggest seeing a thyroid specialist.

How is hyperthyroidism treated?

The doctor will treat hyperthyroidism by lower thyroid hormone levels in your body. This hormone levels can be lowered with medicines, radiation therapy, or surgery.

  • Medicines may be needed for a few months, a few years or more. Ones that prevent thyroid hormone production include propylthiouracil (PTU) and methimazole. They can be used as the main therapy or to prepare for other treatments.
  • Radioactive iodine is used to destroy the thyroid. This therapy is best for people older than 21 and younger people who cannot control their disease with medicines.
  • Surgery is for people with large thyroid glands that block or interfere with other structures in the neck. People who do not want to use radioactive iodine may have surgery. Pregnant women may also need surgery.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage hyperthyroidism?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with hyperthyroidism:

  • Protect your eyes if you have eye complications of Grave’s disease. Use sunglasses and artificial tears, and wear eye protection at night
  • Remember that radioactive iodine shouldnot be used during pregnancy. It may cause an underactive thyroid condition in the baby.
  • Realize that successful treatment means that you need lifelong care. The doctor must check you for onset of an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) after treatment and for possible recurrence of hyperthyroidism.
  • Call your doctor if you have palpitations, serious weight loss, diarrhea, or tremors.
  • Call your doctor if you have restlessness, anxiety, or mood swings.
  • Donot do physical exercise until your illness is controlled
  • Donot smoke. Smoking may worsen eye problems
  • Remember that complications of surgery may include paralysis of vocal cords, underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) and calcium problems. Calcium problems can result if parathyroid glands are accidentally removed
  • Remember that hyperthyroidism may recur after surgery in 10% to 15% of people.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Review Date: May 30, 2016 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017

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