Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid or overactive thyroid disease) is a disorder where your thyroid secretes more than the normal secretion of thyroid hormone. The thyroid gland is in the front of your neck. It releases hormones that play a crucial role in controlling your metabolism. Women are five to 10 times more likely to develop hyperthyroidism than men.

An overactive thyroid often leads to discomfort or even disability that disrupts your everyday activities or routines. You may see or feel a lump in the front of your neck. Thyroid enlargement, called a goiter, occurs in most people with hyperthyroidism.

Other symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:

  • Anxiety, nervousness, and irritability
  • Frequent, loose bowel movements
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Double vision
  • Eyes that bulge out, or “protrude” (in patients with Graves’ disease)
  • Hair changes, including brittle hair, thinning hair, and hair loss from scalp
  • Irregular heart beat (arrhythmia), especially in older adults
  • Menstrual cycle changes, including lighter bleeding and less frequent periods
  • Muscle weakness, especially in the thighs and upper arms
  • Rapid fingernail growth
  • Rapid heartbeat, usually over 100 beats per minute
  • Shaky hands
  • Sweating
  • Thinning skin
  • Weight loss despite increased appetite


Blood tests can confirm a diagnosis of hyperthyroidism. Blood tests include those for thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), thyroid hormone levels (typically elevated) and thyroid-stimulating antibody (called thyroid-stimulating immunoglobin test). If your test results are abnormal, your doctor may also order the following tests:

  • Thyroid ultrasound
  • Radioactive iodine uptake test
  • Thyroid scan



Treatment options include:

  • Anti-thyroid drugs (propylthiouracil (PTU) and methimazole (Tapazole))
  • Radioactive iodine (RAI)
  • Thyroidectomy
  • Beta-blockers

After treatment, you will need regular blood tests to check your thyroid hormone levels.

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