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Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism is the overproduction of thyroid hormones by the body. These hormones, which are secreted by the thyroid gland in the front of the neck, affect nearly every tissue in the body. They play a role in metabolism, breathing, nervous system function and many other processes. Fortunately, hyperthyroidism is highly treatable and generally has an excellent prognosis.

Many symptoms of hyperthyroidism relate to increased metabolic activity. They include:

  • Intolerance of heat
  • Increased sweating
  • Weight loss
  • High blood pressure
  • Abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia)
  • Thinning of the skin
  • Nervousness
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Fatigue

In some cases, hyperthyroidism causes few, if any, symptoms. This is called subclinical hyperthyroidism. If you have subclinical hyperthyroidism, you may still be at increased risk of a type of irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation or, if you are a woman, decreased bone density. Additionally, older people sometimes develop apathetic hyperthyroidism, where many of the classic symptoms are absent. In such cases, key signs might be weight loss, irregular heart rhythm, depression and lethargy.

Hyperthyroidism affects more women than men. Causes of hyperthyroidism can include:

  • Graves’ disease. This autoimmune condition overstimulates the thyroid gland.
  • Viral infection. Hyperthyroidism sometimes develops following infection with influenza or mumps. This condition tends to resolve itself after a few weeks.
  • Medicine. Drugs that can cause hyperthyroidism include lithium, which is used to treat bipolar disorder, and interferon-alpha, which is used to treat hepatitis.
  • Thyroid nodules. Abnormal growths on the thyroid gland, called thyroid nodules, can produce excess thyroid hormones.
  • Thyroid hormone medicine. Taking too much of this medicine, which is used to treat an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism), can lead to symptoms of hyperthyroidism.

We deliver individualized treatment for hyperthyroidism based on its underlying causes and your specific needs and preferences. We include you as a vital member of the healthcare team and are committed to caring for you as a whole person, not just treating your condition.

Prompt and thorough evaluation and treatment of hyperthyroidism is important because of the risks it poses for the heart and other organs. If the condition causes the irregular heart rhythm known as atrial fibrillation, for example, your chance of having a stroke increases.

Fortunately, with proper treatment, hyperthyroidism can generally be controlled or cured. We start by identifying the reason for your overactive thyroid, drawing on our extensive experience as well as advanced diagnostic technology. We then recommend treatment based on factors such as the severity and prognosis of your case as well as your age and general health. We work with other physicians, such as surgeons and other specialists whenever necessary to deliver comprehensive care.

Our partnership with the Indiana University School of Medicine ensures that we have access to the latest innovations in diagnosis and treatment. We also train future generations of doctors and conduct research to improve care for a variety of endocrine conditions. Additionally, to promote diversity of ideas, we participate in a monthly conference with other IU Health specialists, including radiologists, nuclear physicians and surgeons, to discuss our most interesting and challenging cases.

How We Can Help

How We Can Help

Hyperthyroidism Treatment Information

As a rule, our goal in treating hyperthyroidism is to return your hormone levels to normal, although certain mild cases might only need observation. Treatment options for hyperthyroidism include:


Hyperthyroidism Locations & Physicians

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Hyperthyroidism Support Services

Information and resources on hyperthyroidism are available from several organizations. They include: