- Pictures of Hyperthyroidism - Slideshow
- Pictures of Thyroid Medical Anatomy
- Pictures of Thyroid Conditions - Slideshow
- Thyroid FAQs
- Patient Comments: Hyperthyroidism - Symptoms
- Patient Comments: Hyperthyroidism - Treatments
- Patient Comments: Hyperthyroidism - Experience
- Find a local Endocrinologist in your town
- Hyperthyroidism definition and facts
- What is hyperthyroidism?
- What are the symptoms of hyperthyroidism?
- What causes hyperthyroidism?
- What is graves' disease?
- What is thyroiditis (inflammation of the thyroid)?
- What are other causes of hyperthyroidism?
- Which types of doctors treat hyperthyroidism?
- How is hyperthyroidism diagnosed?
- How is medications treat hyperthyroidism?
- Medications that treat symptoms of hyperthyroidism
- Antithyroid drugs for hyperthyroidism
- Radioactive iodine for hyperthyroidism
- Surgery for hyperthyroidism
- What should I do if I think I have hyperthyroidism?
Quick GuideHyperthyroidism Symptoms and Treatment
What is thyroiditis (inflammation of the thyroid)?
Inflammation of the thyroid gland may occur after a viral illness (subacute thyroiditis). This condition is association with a fever and a sore throat that is often painful on swallowing. The thyroid gland is also tender to touch. There may be generalized neck aches and pains. Inflammation of the gland with an accumulation of white blood cells known as lymphocytes (lymphocytic thyroiditis) may also occur. In both of these conditions, the inflammation leaves the thyroid gland "leaky," so that the amount of thyroid hormone entering the blood is increased. Lymphocytic thyroiditis is most common after a pregnancy and can actually occur in up to 8% of women after delivery. In these cases, the hyperthyroid phase can last from 4 to 12 weeks and is often followed by a hypothyroid (low thyroid output) phase that can last for up to 6 months. The majority of affected women return to a state of normal thyroid function. Thyroiditis can be diagnosed by a thyroid scan.
What are other causes of hyperthyroidism?
Functioning adenoma and toxic multinodular goiter
The thyroid gland (like many other areas of the body) becomes lumpier as we get older. In the majority of cases, these lumps do not produce thyroid hormones and require no treatment. Occasionally, a nodule may become "autonomous," which means that it does not respond to pituitary regulation and produces thyroid hormones independently. This becomes more likely if the nodule is larger than 3 cm. When there is a single nodule that is independently producing thyroid hormones, it is called a functioning nodule. If there is more than one functioning nodule, the term toxic, multinodular goiter is used. Functioning nodules may be readily detected with a thyroid scan.
Excessive intake of thyroid hormones
Taking too much thyroid hormone medication is actually quite common. Excessive doses of thyroid hormones frequently go undetected due to the lack of follow-up of patients taking their thyroid medicine. Other persons may be abusing the drug in an attempt to achieve other goals such as weight loss. These patients can be identified by having a low uptake of radioactively-labelled iodine (radioiodine) on a thyroid scan.
Abnormal secretion of TSH
A tumor in the pituitary gland may produce an abnormally high secretion of TSH (the thyroid stimulating hormone produced by the pituitary gland). This leads to excessive signaling to the thyroid gland to produce thyroid hormones. This condition is very rare and can be associated with other abnormalities of the pituitary gland. To identify this disorder, an endocrinologist performs elaborate tests to assess the release of TSH.
Excessive iodine intake
The thyroid gland uses iodine to make thyroid hormones. An excess of iodine may cause hyperthyroidism. Iodine-induced hyperthyroidism is usually seen in patients who already have an underlying abnormal thyroid gland. Certain medications, such as amiodarone (Cordarone), which is used in the treatment of heart problems, contain a large amount of iodine and may be associated with thyroid function abnormalities.