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The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland in the front of the neck. It produces hormones that control metabolism. Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland becomes overactive and produces too much thyroid hormone.
Hyperthyroidism may be caused by:
Factors that may increase your chance of having hyperthyroidism include:
Symptoms come on slowly. As the thyroid becomes more overactive, symptoms may appear.
Hyperthyroidism may cause:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Tests may include:
Treatment will depend what is causing the hyperthyroidism. It will also be adjusted if you are pregnant. Talk to your doctor about the best treatment options for you.
Antithyroid medications work best for Graves' disease. They will reduce thyroid activity. Smoking can interfere with some of the medications. If you smoke, talk to your doctor about how you can successfully quit.
All theses medications can cause a rash, fever and painful joints. Serious adverse reactions include increased risk of infection and liver damage.
If the disease goes into remission, you may no longer need medication.
This type of medication can relieve rapid heart rate and nervousness.
is taken orally. It is then absorbed by the thyroid gland. Once there, it damages most of the thyroid cells. These cells can no longer produce thyroid hormones. Within days, the excess iodine passes out of the body in the urine or changes into a nonradioactive state. This treatment reduces the activity of the thyroid. Sometimes the treatment can decrease the thyroid levels too much. In this case, you will need to take a daily thyroid hormone replacement.
is uncommon for the treatment of hyperthyroidism. It will remove part or all of the thyroid. It may be an option when medical therapy fails.
After surgery, you may need to take a daily thyroid supplement.
If there are eye symptoms like dry red eyes or double vision, your doctor may prescribe:
You may be referred to an eye specialist.
There are no current guidelines to prevent hyperthyroidism.
American Thyroid Association
National Graves' Disease Foundation
Thyroid Foundation of Canada
American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists. Medical guidelines for clinical practice for the evaluation and treatment of hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.
Endocrine Practice. 2002;8:457-469.
Hyperthyroidism. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us. Updated March 12, 2013. Accessed November 25, 2013.
Shomon M. Frequently asked questions on Graves' disease & hyperthyroidism. Thyroid-Info website. Available at:
http://www.thyroid-info.com/articles/hyperthyroidism-faq.htm. Updated November 25, 2013. Accessed November 25, 2013.
Van Geest RJ, Sa sim IV, Koppeschaar HP, et al. Methylprednisolone pulse therapy for patients with moderately severe Graves' orbitopathy: a prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled study.
Eur J Endocrinol.
1/30/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us: Nyirenda MJ, Taylor PN, Stoddart M, Beckett GJ, Toft AD. Thyroid-stimulating hormone-receptor antibody and thyroid hormone concentrations in smokers vs nonsmokers with Graves disease treated with carbimazole.
7/6/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us: Safety: propylthiouracil. US Food and Drug Administration website. Available at:
http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch/SafetyInformation/SafetyAlertsforHumanMedicalProducts/ucm164162.htm. Updated April 21, 2010. Accessed November 25, 2013.
Last reviewed November 2013 by
Kim Carmichael, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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