Hyperthyroidism

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Author: Ruchi Mathur, MD, FRCP(C)
    Ruchi Mathur, MD, FRCP(C)

    Ruchi Mathur, MD, FRCP(C) is an Attending Physician with the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism and Associate Director of Clinical Research, Recruitment and Phenotyping with the Center for Androgen Related Disorders, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

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Quick GuideHyperthyroidism Symptoms and Treatment

Hyperthyroidism Symptoms and Treatment

What causes hyperthyroidism?

Some common causes of hyperthyroidism include:

What is graves' disease?

Graves' disease, which is caused by a generalized overactivity of the thyroid gland, is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism. In this condition, the thyroid gland usually is renegade, which means it has lost the ability to respond to the normal control by the pituitary gland via TSH. Graves' disease is hereditary and is up to five times more common among women than men.

Graves' disease is thought to be an autoimmune disease, and antibodies that are characteristic of the illness may be found in the blood. These antibodies include thyroid stimulating immunoglobulin (TSI antibodies), thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPO), and TSH receptor antibodies.

What are the symptoms of Graves' disease?

In addition to the symptoms of hyperthyroidism mentioned above, Grave's disease may be associated with eye disease (Graves' ophthalmopathy) and skin lesions (dermopathy). Ophthalmopathy can occur before, after, or at the same time as the hyperthyroidism. Early on, it may cause sensitivity to light and a feeling of "sand in the eyes." The eyes may be reddened and produce excess tears. Swelling behind the eyeballs causes the eyes to protrude, and double vision can occur. The degree of ophthalmopathy is worsened in those who smoke.

The course of the eye disease is often independent of the thyroid disease, and steroid medications may be necessary to control the inflammation that causes the ophthalmopathy. In addition, surgical intervention may be required. The skin condition (dermopathy) is rare and causes a painless, red, lumpy skin rash on the front of the legs.

What are the triggers for Graves' disease?

The triggers for Graves' disease include:

Graves' disease can be diagnosed by a standard, nuclear medicine thyroid scan which shows diffusely increased uptake of a radioactively-labelled iodine. In addition, a blood test may reveal elevated TSI levels.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/1/2016

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