Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland overproduces thyroid hormone. A term closely associated with this condition is "thyrotoxicosis”.

Too much thyroid hormone increases metabolism, which might seem like happy news for some people, but this increased metabolism has a negative impact on many functions of the body.

Symptoms of an overactive thyroid include the following:
• Abnormal weight loss
• Anxiety
• Irritability
• Fast heart rate
• Trembling hands
• Difficulty sleeping
• Fast growing fingernails
• Sweating more than usual
• Tiredness

Hyperthyroidism tends to progress slowly; however, changes can occur abruptly in some young patients.

Graves’ disease, the most common cause of hyperthyroidism, is an autoimmune disease that leads to a generalized overactivity of the entire thyroid gland. Graves’ disease occurs more often in young women, tends to run in families, and is 7-8 times more common in women than men. Hyperthyroidism can also be caused by multinodular goiter, which is one or more thyroid nodules that grow and increase in activity so that the total output of thyroid hormone into the blood is greater than normal.

Diagnosis of hyperthyroidism generally happens through a physical exam (looking for an enlarged thyroid gland) and blood tests. Treatment options for hyperthyroidism will depend on several factors and can include medication or surgical removal of the thyroid gland.

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