Hyperthyroidism: What Causes It & What Are Its Symptoms?
Millions of people are diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, but what is it? Here, we discuss the main causes of hyperthyroidism and some of its symptoms.

At the base of your neck is a butterfly-shaped gland called the thyroid that produces hormones—namely thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3)—and regulates the way your body utilises energy and its metabolic rate. When the thyroid produces too much of the thyroid hormones, it can cause hyperthyroidism (when it produces too little, it is known as hypothyroidism). Women are more likely to develop thyroid problems, as are those with a family history of hyperthyroidism, or those who have been diagnosed with chronic illnesses like type 1 diabetes and pernicious anaemia.

Hyperthyroidism can develop for a number of reasons:

  • Graves’ disease: This is an immune system disorder that causes your thyroid to overproduce thyroid hormones, making it a major cause of hyperthyroidism.
  • Excess iodine: The thyroid’s functioning depends on iodine, so if there is excess iodine or not enough, it can lead to thyroid problems. Too much iodine may cause the thyroid to overproduce hormones. Iodine is usually found in certain medications, seaweed and supplements.
  • Inflamed thyroid (thyroiditis): There could be instances where the thyroid becomes inflamed, causing an uncontrolled leak of thyroid hormones into the bloodstream. This typically occurs in women after they have given birth, and is known as postpartum thyroiditis.
  • Nodules on the thyroid: Certain growths on the thyroid can cause an overproduction of thyroid hormones.

There certain symptoms of hyperthyroidism to look out for:

Mood swings
Hyperthyroidism can cause sudden and unexpected changes in one’s mood, and can cause one to feel more irritable than usual.

Sleep problems
One may have difficulty falling asleep as a result of hyperthyroidism.

Prolonged fatigue or muscle weakness is one of the indicators of hyperthyroidism.

Swelling in neck
If the thyroid gland is inflamed and enlarged, you will see a swelling at the base of your neck—this is known as goitre and is a symptom of hyperthyroidism.

You may experience palpitations or a rapid heartbeat (over 100 beats per minute), or even an irregular heartbeat.

Twitching and tremors
Muscle spasms and tremors may occur as a symptom of hyperthyroidism—some people report a trembling of their hands.

Weight loss
Despite no change in one’s diet, hyperthyroidism can cause rapid weight loss. In fact, some say that an increased appetite is a symptom of hyperthyroidism.

Irregular menstrual periods
Menstrual irregularities have been reported as a symptom of hyperthyroidism. One can experience absent periods, or infrequent ones.

Heat sensitivity
Those with hyperthyroidism may experience more sensitivity towards heat, they tend to feel hot when those around them do not. They may also experience increased sweating.

Change in bowel movements
One may find that they are having more frequent bowel movements as a result of hyperthyroidism.

Eye irritations and irregularities
These eye irregularities include pronounced bulging of the eyes and/or redness.

It’s important to immediately see a healthcare professional if you are experiencing any of the symptoms, or if you feel you are at risk for developing hyperthyroidism. There are various blood tests that can determine the status of your thyroid, and your treatment plan can then be formulated.

At Seva At Home, we produce a wealth of free health information to help elders live healthier, happier lives. This has been produced by independent research carried out by the Seva At Home team. This information is not a replacement for medical advice. Please consult your physician for relevant medical diagnosis and advice.

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