Overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism)
Overactive thyroid, hyperthyroidism, or thyrotoxicosis is when the thyroid gland produces too many thyroid hormones. The thyroid gland is butterfly-shaped in the neck in front of the windpipe. It helps to produce hormones that affect heart rate and body temperature.
Too many hormones can cause uneasy and potentially severe problems that might need treatments. The overactive thyroid can affect anyone, irrespective of age. But it is more common among women than men and typically happens between the ages of 20 and 40.
Overactive thyroid symptoms
The overactive thyroid can cause a wide range of symptoms that includes:
- Anxiety, nervousness, and irritability
- Mood swings
- Insomnia (difficulty sleeping)
- Consistent weakness and tiredness
- Sensitivity to heat
- Enlarged thyroid gland (swelling near your neck)
- Fast or irregular heart rate
- Trembling or twitching
- Weight loss
Overactive thyroid causes
The are multiple reasons to develop the condition; they include:
- Graves’ disease is a condition that mistakenly affects the immune system and damages the thyroid. Out of 3 in 4 people with overactive thyroid have Graves’ disease)
- Lumps on the thyroid (nodules) are extra thyroid tissue that produces thyroid hormones leading to high levels
- Certain medications, like amiodarone, help to treat irregular heartbeat
Overactive thyroid treatments
The primary treatments are:
- Medications to help stop your thyroid from producing too many hormones.
- Radioiodine treatment is a type of radiotherapy. It helps to destroy cells in the thyroid and reduces the ability to produce thyroid hormones.
- Surgery to remove all (or some) of the thyroid, so it can either no longer produce thyroid hormones.
Every treatment has its own drawbacks and benefits. So, you will often be referred to a specialist in hormonal conditions to discuss suitable treatment for you.
Reviewed by – Dr. Priyanka, MBBS MD Microbiology
Page last reviewed: 16 JULY 2022