Hyperthyroidism, also referred to as overactive thyroid, is a medical condition characterized by the thyroid gland’s excessive production and release of thyroid hormones. This condition accelerates the body’s metabolic processes, leading to a range of symptoms such as weight loss, hand tremors, and a rapid or irregular heartbeat. Common indicators of hyperthyroidism include a fast pulse, increased appetite, and heightened anxiety.

Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland overproduces and releases an excess of hormones, including triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). This condition can disrupt various bodily functions and requires professional medical attention.

Treatment options for hyperthyroidism encompass several approaches. Anti-thyroid medications and radioiodine therapy are effective in reducing thyroid hormone production. In some cases, surgery may be recommended to either partially or completely remove the thyroid gland. Depending on the underlying cause, hyperthyroidism may also resolve spontaneously without the need for medication or other medical interventions.


Diagnosing hyperthyroidism can be challenging as its symptoms may resemble other health issues. This condition can manifest in various ways, leading to a range of symptoms, such as:

  • Unintentional weight loss: Shedding pounds without trying.
  • Rapid heartbeat (tachycardia): Abnormally fast heartbeat.
  • Irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia): Heart rhythm disturbances.
  • Heart palpitations: Sensation of your heart pounding.
  • Increased appetite: A surge in hunger.
  • Nervousness, anxiety, and irritability: Emotional changes.
  • Tremors: Mild shaking in the hands and fingers.
  • Excessive sweating: Unusual perspiration.
  • Altered menstrual cycles: Changes in period regularity.
  • Heat sensitivity: Heightened sensitivity to warm temperatures.
  • Altered bowel habits: More frequent bowel movements.
  • Enlarged thyroid gland (goiter): Swelling at the neck’s base.
  • Fatigue: Overwhelming tiredness.
  • Muscle weakness: Reduced physical strength.
  • Sleep disturbances: Difficulty sleeping.
  • Warm, moist skin: Skin feeling warm and damp.
  • Skin changes: Thinning and increased brittleness.
  • Hair changes: Hair becoming fine and brittle.

In older adults, hyperthyroidism can present with subtle signs like an irregular heartbeat, unexplained weight loss, depression, or increased fatigue during daily tasks. If any of these symptoms arise, seeking prompt medical attention is crucial. Particularly, unexplained weight loss, rapid heartbeat, unusual sweating, or neck swelling may signal hyperthyroidism and should be reported to your healthcare provider along with all other symptoms, no matter how mild. After a hyperthyroidism diagnosis, most individuals will need ongoing follow-up appointments with their healthcare provider for close monitoring and effective management of the condition.


Hyperthyroidism is a medical condition that arises from various factors affecting the thyroid gland, a small butterfly-shaped organ located at the base of the neck. The thyroid gland plays a crucial role in regulating the body’s metabolism, as it produces two key hormones: thyroxine (T-4) and triiodothyronine (T-3). These hormones have a wide-ranging impact on virtually every cell in the body. They influence the body’s utilization of fats and carbohydrates, help regulate body temperature, affect heart rate, and contribute to protein synthesis.

When the thyroid gland overproduces these thyroid hormones, it results in hyperthyroidism. Several medical conditions can lead to this excessive hormone production, including:

  • Graves’ disease: Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disorder where the immune system mistakenly attacks the thyroid gland. This attack prompts the thyroid to produce an excess of thyroid hormones, making it the most common cause of hyperthyroidism.
  • Overactive thyroid nodules: Also known as toxic adenoma, toxic multinodular goiter, or Plummer disease, this form of hyperthyroidism occurs when a thyroid adenoma, a localized area within the gland, produces an excessive amount of thyroid hormone. These adenomas are benign growths that can enlarge the thyroid.
  • Thyroiditis: Thyroiditis occurs when the thyroid gland becomes inflamed. In some cases, this inflammation is linked to an autoimmune disorder, while in others, the cause remains unclear. Inflammation can lead to the release of stored thyroid hormone into the bloodstream, resulting in hyperthyroidism symptoms.

Risk factors

Factors that increase the risk of developing hyperthyroidism include:

  • Family history: A family history of thyroid disease, especially Graves’ disease, increases the risk of developing hyperthyroidism.
  • Personal medical history: Having certain chronic illnesses like pernicious anemia and primary adrenal insufficiency can be associated with a higher likelihood of hyperthyroidism.
  • Recent pregnancy: Women who have recently been pregnant are at an elevated risk of developing thyroiditis, which can subsequently lead to hyperthyroidism.