Hyperthyroidism

You have been diagnosed with hyperthyroidism. This means you have a thyroid gland that makes too much thyroid hormone. This hormone helps with body growth and metabolism. If you make too much thyroid hormone, many body processes speed up. They may not work right. This can cause symptoms.

Hyperthyroidism can be caused by:

  • Graves disease. This is the most common cause. This is when the body’s immune system causes the thyroid to grow. It makes more thyroid hormone than needed. This happens more often in women than in men.

  • Postpartum thyroiditis. This is inflammation of the thyroid gland. It occurs shortly after childbirth. At first, it causes hyperthyroidism. Over time it leads to underactive thyroid gland. This is called hypothyroidism.

Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:

  • Nervousness, anxiety, and irritability

  • Shaking (tremors) that affects the hands and fingers

  • Weight loss even though you have a normal or increased appetite

  • Low tolerance to heat

  • Sweating more than normal

  • Fast or irregular heartbeat, or bounding pulses

  • Lighter or irregular periods

  • More frequent bowel movements

  • Enlarged thyroid gland (goiter)

  • Bulging eyes, double vision, or eye irritation

  • Problems sleeping

  • Muscle weakness

  • Extreme tiredness (fatigue)

  • Swelling of the hands, ankles, or feet (older adults only)

Your healthcare provider will need to do some tests to see which form of hyperthyroidism you have. The types of treatment are different. Treatment may include taking medicines. For instance, antithyroid medicines may be prescribed. These help lower the amount of thyroid hormone made by the thyroid gland. You may need to take beta-blockers. Tips for taking medicines are given below.

Radioiodine ablation or surgery may be advised. Your provider will tell you more about these if needed.

Home care

Tips for taking medicines

  • Take any medicines you’re prescribed as directed.

  • Take your medicine at the same time each day.

  • Check with your pharmacist before using any other medicines. This includes over-the-counter medicines. This will help prevent medicine interactions.

  • Use a pillbox labeled with the days of the week. This will help you make sure to take your medicine each day.

  • Tell your provider if you have any side effects from your medicines.

  • Never stop taking medicines on your own. Your symptoms will come back if you do.

General care

  • Always talk with your provider before trying other treatments for your thyroid.

  • Tell all of your other healthcare providers that you have hyperthyroidism.

Follow-up care

See your provider for checkups as advised. You'll need regular follow-up tests to check the level of thyroid hormone in your blood.

When to get medical care

Call your provider right away if you have any of these:

  • New symptoms

  • Symptoms return, continue, or get worse even with treatment

  • Extreme tiredness

  • Puffy hands, face, or feet

  • Confusion

Call 911

Call 911 if any of these occur:

  • Fainting

  • Chest pain

  • Shortness of breath or trouble breathing

© 2000-2022 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
Powered by Krames Patient Education - A Product of StayWell