Your thyroid is a gland below the Adam’s apple in the front of your neck.
Your thyroid releases thyroid hormones. The hormones control how fast your body’s chemical functions work (metabolic rate). Almost every cell in your body needs thyroid hormones. Among many other things, thyroid hormones help control:
"Hyper" means too much. So hyperthyroidism is when your thyroid is too active and makes more thyroid hormone than your body needs.
Thyroid storm is very severe hyperthyroidism that happens when your thyroid suddenly releases a dangerous amount of hormones. It's usually brought on by an infection, heart attack, stroke, surgery, or extreme stress. It's an emergency that can be fatal if not treated quickly.
The most common causes include:
In Graves disease, your body's immune system mistakenly attacks the thyroid (an autoimmune disease). Most autoimmune diseases make things stop working. But in Graves disease, the attack by your immune system makes your thyroid work harder and make more thyroid hormones.
Thyroiditis results from certain viral infections and other diseases that inflame your thyroid. Damaged cells in the inflamed thyroid can release extra thyroid hormones.
Thyroid nodules are small growths that often result from a genetic disease. Some nodules release thyroid hormones. Thyroid cancers also are small growths, but they rarely produce thyroid hormones.
Symptoms of hyperthyroidism usually involve a speeding up of body functions. So you might have:
High blood pressure
Fast heart rate and palpitations (sensation of unusual heart beats)
A lot of sweating and a feeling of being very warm all the time
Nervousness, anxiety, and difficulty sleeping
Frequent bowel movements, sometimes with diarrhea
In women, irregular or no menstrual periods
Some diseases that cause hyperthyroidism make your thyroid swell or hurt.
Older people with hyperthyroidism may have less obvious symptoms. Symptoms in older people may include:
People with Graves disease can have problems with their eyes including:
Doctors will do:
Thyroid function tests, including blood tests and imaging tests of your thyroid gland
Treatment depends on the cause of the hyperthyroidism.
Doctors will treat you with:
Sometimes, doctors need to permanently stop your thyroid from making any more hormones. They may stop your thyroid by:
After you've had surgery or radioactive iodine treatments, you'll need to take thyroid hormone pills because your body no longer makes its own thyroid hormones.