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Hyperthyroidism

Summary

Your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in your neck, just above your collarbone. It is one of your endocrine glands, which make hormones. Thyroid hormones control the rate of many activities in your body. These include how fast you burn calories and how fast your heart beats. All of these activities are your body's metabolism. If your thyroid is too active, it makes more thyroid hormones than your body needs. This is called hyperthyroidism.

Hyperthyroidism is more common in women, people with other thyroid problems, and those over 60 years old. Graves' disease, an autoimmune disorder, is the most common cause. Other causes include thyroid nodules, thyroiditis, consuming too much iodine, and taking too much synthetic thyroid hormone.

The symptoms can vary from person to person. They may include

  • Being nervous or irritable
  • Mood swings
  • Fatigue or muscle weakness
  • Heat intolerance
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Hand tremors
  • Rapid and irregular heartbeat
  • Frequent bowel movements or diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Goiter, which is an enlarged thyroid that may cause the neck to look swollen

To diagnose hyperthyroidism, your doctor will do a physical exam, look at your symptoms, and do thyroid tests. Treatment is with medicines, radioiodine therapy, or thyroid surgery. No single treatment works for everyone.

NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

Start Here

  • (American Academy of Family Physicians) Also in
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases)
  • (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases) - PDF - In English and Spanish

Diagnosis and Tests

  • (American Association for Clinical Chemistry)
  • (American Thyroid Association) Also in
  • Video (American College of Radiology, Radiological Society of North America) Also in
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases)
  • Thyroxine (T4) Test From the National Institutes of Health (National Library of Medicine) Also in Spanish
  • TSH (Thyroid-stimulating hormone) test From the National Institutes of Health (National Library of Medicine) Also in Spanish

Treatments and Therapies

  • (American College of Radiology, Radiological Society of North America) Also in
  • (Hormone Health Network)
  • (American Thyroid Association) Also in
  • (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in

Related Issues

  • (American Thyroid Association) - PDF
  • (American Thyroid Association) Also in
  • (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in
  • (Hormone Health Network)

Specifics

  • (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke)

Genetics

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Library of Medicine)

Images

Striking laughter

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)

Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)

Reference Desk

  • (Hormone Health Network)

Find an Expert

  • (Hormone Health Network)
  • (American Thyroid Association)
  • From the National Institutes of Health

Children

  • (Nemours Foundation)

Women

  • (Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women's Health)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases)

Patient Handouts