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Hyperthyroidism

Too much thyroid hormone. Symptoms include weight loss, chest pain, cramps, diarrhea, and nervousness. Also called overactive thyroid.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Cancer Institute)

About Hyperthyroidism

The thyroid gland is a part of the body's endocrine (hormone) system — which is made up of the glands that help regulate many of the body's different functions. An overactive thyroid produces too much of the thyroid hormone thyroxine, which causes some of these functions to speed up. "Hyperthyroidism" is the medical term for an overactive thyroid gland.

Too little thyroxine reverses the process and slows down the body's functions. This can be caused by an underactive thyroid, a condition also referred to as hypothyroidism.

Symptoms

Hyperthyroidism often causes the thyroid gland, which is located at the front of the neck, to become noticeably larger. A swollen thyroid is called a goiter... Read more about Hyperthyroidism

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

No evidence found from randomised trials for drugs to treat pregnant women with hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism in pregnancy is a rare, serious condition which can increase the risks of miscarriage, stillbirth, preterm birth, and intrauterine growth restriction. Pregnant women who are hyperthyroid may also develop severe pre‐eclampsia or placental abruption. Most of these women have Graves' disease, an autoimmune disease most common in women aged 20 to 40 years. Most pregnant women with hyperthyroidism are diagnosed with thyroid disease prior to conception and will have previously received treatment for the condition. Generally only drug therapy is considered for treating pregnant women with hyperthyroidism. Radioiodine treatment is not used in pregnancy because it destroys the fetal thyroid gland, resulting in permanent hypothyroidism in the newborn.

Chinese herbal medicines for hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism is a common illness in which excessive amounts of thyroid hormones circulate in the blood. Affected people, among other things suffer from increased heart beats, warm moist skin and raised body temperature. A large number of Chinese herbal medicines are used to treat this condition in China. Thirteen relevant trials with 1770 participants were analysed. All of them were of low quality. None of these trials analysed mortality, health related quality of life, economic outcomes or compliance with treatments. Some of these herbs may show benefits in improving symptoms, thyroid function and adverse effects. Unfortunately, we were unable to find reliable evidence to recommend a specific herbal preparation from 103 investigated formulations.

Antithyroid drug regimen for treating Graves' hyperthyroidism

People who have Graves' hyperthyroidism have thyroid glands which are releasing too much thyroid hormone. This can cause goitres (swelling in the neck around the thyroid gland), sweating, bowel or menstrual problems, and other, especially eye symptoms (ophthalmopathy). Treatments include anti‐thyroid drugs, surgery or radiation to reduce thyroid tissue. There are several choices to be made when considering the drug treatment of Graves' hyperthyroidism including the choice of drug, dose, duration of therapy, addition of thyroid hormone (thyroxine) and when to discontinue therapy. The antithyroid drugs which were used in the included randomised controlled trials (RCTs) comprised carbimazole, propylthiouracil and methimazole.

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Summaries for consumers

No evidence found from randomised trials for drugs to treat pregnant women with hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism in pregnancy is a rare, serious condition which can increase the risks of miscarriage, stillbirth, preterm birth, and intrauterine growth restriction. Pregnant women who are hyperthyroid may also develop severe pre‐eclampsia or placental abruption. Most of these women have Graves' disease, an autoimmune disease most common in women aged 20 to 40 years. Most pregnant women with hyperthyroidism are diagnosed with thyroid disease prior to conception and will have previously received treatment for the condition. Generally only drug therapy is considered for treating pregnant women with hyperthyroidism. Radioiodine treatment is not used in pregnancy because it destroys the fetal thyroid gland, resulting in permanent hypothyroidism in the newborn.

Chinese herbal medicines for hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism is a common illness in which excessive amounts of thyroid hormones circulate in the blood. Affected people, among other things suffer from increased heart beats, warm moist skin and raised body temperature. A large number of Chinese herbal medicines are used to treat this condition in China. Thirteen relevant trials with 1770 participants were analysed. All of them were of low quality. None of these trials analysed mortality, health related quality of life, economic outcomes or compliance with treatments. Some of these herbs may show benefits in improving symptoms, thyroid function and adverse effects. Unfortunately, we were unable to find reliable evidence to recommend a specific herbal preparation from 103 investigated formulations.

Antithyroid drug regimen for treating Graves' hyperthyroidism

People who have Graves' hyperthyroidism have thyroid glands which are releasing too much thyroid hormone. This can cause goitres (swelling in the neck around the thyroid gland), sweating, bowel or menstrual problems, and other, especially eye symptoms (ophthalmopathy). Treatments include anti‐thyroid drugs, surgery or radiation to reduce thyroid tissue. There are several choices to be made when considering the drug treatment of Graves' hyperthyroidism including the choice of drug, dose, duration of therapy, addition of thyroid hormone (thyroxine) and when to discontinue therapy. The antithyroid drugs which were used in the included randomised controlled trials (RCTs) comprised carbimazole, propylthiouracil and methimazole.

See all (14)

Terms to know

Goiter
Goiter is an enlargement of the thyroid gland. The resulting bulge on the neck may become extremely large, but most simple goiters are brought under control before this happens. Occasionally a simple goiter may cause some difficulty in breathing and swallowing.
Hypercalcemia
Higher than normal levels of calcium in the blood.
Metabolism
The chemical changes that take place in a cell or an organism. These changes make energy and the materials cells and organisms need to grow, reproduce, and stay healthy. Metabolism also helps get rid of toxic substances.
Thyroid Gland
A gland located beneath the larynx (voice box) that makes thyroid hormone and calcitonin. The thyroid helps regulate growth and metabolism. Also called thyroid gland.
Thyroid Hormones
A hormone that affects heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, and weight. Thyroid hormone is made by the thyroid gland and can also be made in the laboratory.
Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone (TSH)
A hormone produced by the pituitary gland. TSH stimulates the release of thyroid hormone.

More about Hyperthyroidism

Photo of an adult woman

Also called: Hyperthyroid, Overactive thyroid

See Also: Hypothyroidism, Graves' Disease

Other terms to know: See all 6
Goiter, Hypercalcemia, Metabolism

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