Hyperthyroidism is a condition describing the overproduction of thyroid hormone from the thyroid gland.
Symptoms are different for each person. Here are the most common ones:
At the UCLA Endocrine Center, you will meet with an endocrinologist who will ask about your past health, including your medications and diet, and perform a comprehensive physical exam.
Blood tests can help diagnose hyperthyroidism. Laboratory tests to determine thyroid function include:
The workup may also include neck ultrasound to assess for thyroid nodules that could be overproducing thyroid hormone.
Hyperthyroidism has several causes. These may include:
This is an autoimmune disorder. It is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism. It happens when an antibody overstimulates the thyroid. This condition is most often found in young to middle-aged women. It also tends to run in families.
This condition happens when one or more lumps (nodules) of the thyroid gland become too active. Health experts don't know what causes this to happen. In most cases, the nodules are not cancer (benign). But in rare cases the overactive thyroid tissue is cancer.
This is a general term that refers to inflammation of the thyroid. Depending on the severity, thyroiditis may or may not produce any symptoms or need to be treated. The inflammation releases an excessive amount of thyroid hormone, leading to temporary hyperthyroidism. As the thyroid “burns out,” the thyroid then often becomes underactive.
Less common causes of hyperthyroidism include:
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is a type of inflammation of the thyroid gland that results from an autoimmune process. It is the most common cause of Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism (in which the inflammation results in an underactive thyroid gland) in the U.S. However, some individuals with Hashimoto's thyroiditis may never develop hypothyroidism and thus never have any symptoms.
Infectious thyroiditis is inflammation of the thyroid gland resulting from an infection in the thyroid. Patients with this will usually have neck pain, enlargement of the thyroid gland, and symptoms of an infection, such as fever and generalized body aches.
Painless thyroiditis is an inflammation of the thyroid gland in which there is a short period of both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. The thyroid gland is not painful. Both usually resolve without treatment. Painess postpartum thyroiditis refers to this disorder when it occurs in women who were recently pregnant.
Inflammation of the thyroid gland may also occur in individuals who are taking certain medications, including amiodarone, lithium, and interferon. Radiation of the neck can also result in thyroiditis. The hyperthyroid and hypothyroid phases of thyroid inflammation can be managed usually with medications alone.
Fibrous thyroiditis is an extremely rare condition in which the thyroid becomes hardened from a significant inflammatory process in the thyroid that extends locally in the neck. Surgery may be required to treat this condition.
Treatment will depend on your symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.
Treatment may include:
If your hyperthyroidism is not treated, these complications may happen:
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