Hyperthyroidism – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

What is hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism is a condition of excessive production of  thyroid harmone. The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland located at base of your neck. It produces tetraiodothyronine or thyroxine(T4) and triiodothyronine (T3), which are two main hormones that regulates the energy usage of your cells . This thyroid gland regulates your metabolism by releasing these hormones.

Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid produces excessive T4, T3, or both. Diagnosis of overactive thyroid and treatment of the basic cause can relieve symptoms and prevent complications.

What causes hyperthyroidism?

There are large number of conditions can lead to hyperthyroidism. Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disorder, is the most common cause behind hyperthyroidism. It causes antibodies to stimulate the thyroid to produce or secrete too much hormone. Graves’ disease is more common in women than men. It tends to run in families, which means it has a genetic link. You should tell your doctor if your family members or relatives have had the condition.

Other reasons behind hyperthyroidism are:

  • Too much iodine , main ingredient in T4 and T3
  • thyroiditis,( inflammation of the thyroid), which causes leaking out of T4 and T3 from the gland.
  • ovarian or testicle tumors
  • benign tumors of the thyroid or pituitary gland
  • Too much tetraiodothyronine taken through dietary supplements or medication.

What are the symptoms of hyperthyroidism?

Large amounts of T4, T3, or both can cause an excessively high metabolic rate. This is called as a hypermetabolic state. In a hypermetabolic state, you may experience a fast heart rate, increased blood pressure, and hand tremors(shaking of hand). You may also sweat excessively and develop a little tolerance for heat. Hyperthyroidism can lead to more frequent bowel movements, weight loss, and, in women it can cause irregular menstrual cycles.

Externally, the thyroid gland itself can swell into a goiter, which can be either both- sided or one-sided. Your eyes may also appear quite prominent, which is a sign of exophthalmos(bulging of eyes), a condition that’s related to Graves’ disease.

Other symptoms of hyperthyroidism are:

  • rapid and irregular heart rate
  • nervousness and mood swings,
  • Irritability or restlessness

Hyperthyroidism can also lead to atrial fibrillation, a dangerous arrhythmia(irregular heartbeat) that can cause strokes, as well as congestive heart failure.

How do doctors diagnose hyperthyroidism?

  • weight loss
  • false pulse
  • protruding eyes
  • enlarged thyroid gland
  • hypertention

Your first step in diagnosis is to obtain a complete medical history and physical exam. This can tell all these common signs of hyperthyroidism:

Other tests may be done for further evaluation of your diagnosis. These tests are:

Cholesterol test

Your doctor may need to check your cholesterol levelsLow cholesterol can be a sign of an increased metabolic rate, in which your body is burning through cholesterol fastly.

T4, free T4, T3

These tests measure the level of thyroid hormone (T4 and T3) is in your blood.

Thyroid stimulating hormone level test

Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) is secreted by pituitary gland hormone that stimulates the thyroid gland to produce hormones. When thyroid hormone levels are normal or high , your TSH should be lower. An abnormal lowering of TSH can be the first sign of hyperthyroidism.

Triglyceride test

Your triglyceride level may also be tested. Same as low cholesterol, low triglycerides can also be a sign of an increased metabolic rate.

Thyroid scan and uptake

This allows your doctor to view if your thyroid is overactive. articularly, it can reveal whether the whole thyroid or only a single area of the gland is causing the overactivity.


Ultrasounds can measure the size of the complete thyroid gland, as well as any masses inside it. Doctors can also use ultrasounds to check if a mass is solid or cystic.

CT or MRI scans

CT scan or MRI can show if a pituitary tumor is present behind the condition.

How to treat hyperthyroidism


Antithyroid medications, like methimazole (Tapazole), carbimazole stop the thyroid from making hormones. They are the common treatment.

Radioactive iodine

Radioactive iodine is given to over 70 percent of U.S. adults suffering from hyperthyroidism. According to the American Thyroid Association, it successfully destroys the cells that produce hormones.

Common side effects are dry mouthdry eyessore throat, swelling of salivery glandcand changes in taste. Precautions may required to for a little time after treatment to prevent radiation spread to others.


A section or all of your whole thyroid gland may be surgically removed.Then you will have to take thyroid hormone supplements to prevent hypothyroidism, which occurs when you have an underactive thyroid that secretes very small amount of hormone. Also, beta-blockers like propranolol (Inderal) can help control your fast pulse, sweating, anxiety, and high blood pressure. Most people respond very well to this treatment.

What you can do to improve symptoms

Eating a proper diet, with a target on sodium and calcium  is necessary, especially for prevention of hyperthyroidism. Take help of your doctor to make a healthy guidelines for your diet, nutritional supplements, and exercise.

Hyperthyroidism can also lead to weaker and thinner bones , which can cause osteoporosis. Taking vitamin D and calcium supplements during and after treatment can help strengthen or harden your bones. Your doctor can ask to your doctor that how much vitamin D and calcium can be taken per day. Learn more about the health benefits of vitamin D.

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