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Hyperthyroidism

You have hyperthyroidism. This means you have a thyroid gland that makes too much thyroid hormone. This hormone is vital to body growth and metabolism. If you make too much thyroid hormone, many body processes speed up and may not work right. This can cause symptoms throughout the body.

There are a number of causes of hyperthyroidism. The most common cause is Grave’s disease. This occurs when the body’s immune system causes the thyroid to grow and make more thyroid hormone than needed.

Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:

  • Nervousness, anxiety, irritability

  • Shaking (tremors) that affects the hands and fingers

  • Weight loss despite having a normal or increased appetite

  • Low tolerance to heat

  • Sweating more than normal

  • Fast or irregular heartbeat

  • Lighter or irregular periods (women only)

  • More frequent bowel movements

  • Enlarged thyroid gland (goiter)

  • Bulging eyes

  • Problems sleeping

  • Muscle weakness

  • Fatigue

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

Treatment for hyperthyroidism may include taking medicines. For instance, antithyroid medicines may be prescribed. These help lower the amount of thyroid hormone made by the thyroid gland. Beta-blockers may be prescribed as well. Tips for taking medicines are given below.

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

Home care

Tips for taking medicines

  • Take any medicines you’re prescribed as directed.

  • Take your medicine at the same times each day.

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

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

  • Never stop taking medicines on your own. If you do, your symptoms will return.

General care

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

  • If you see other healthcare providers, be sure to let them know about your thyroid problem.

Follow-up care

See your healthcare provider for checkups as advised. You may need regular tests to check the level of thyroid hormone in your blood.

When to seek medical advice

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • New symptoms occur

  • Symptoms return, continue, or worsen even after treatment

  • Extreme fatigue

  • Puffy hands, face, or feet

  • Confusion

Call 911

Call 911 right away if any of these occur:

  • Fainting

  • Chest pain

  • Shortness of breath or trouble breathing

 

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