When your thyroid gland produces too much of the hormone thyroxine, you have hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid). Hyperthyroidism can cause your body’s metabolism to speed up, resulting in unintentional weight loss and a rapid or irregular heartbeat.
There are several treatments available for hyperthyroidism. To reduce thyroid hormone production, doctors use anti-thyroid medications and radioactive iodine. Surgery to remove all or part of your thyroid gland is sometimes used to treat hyperthyroidism.
Although hyperthyroidism can be dangerous if left untreated, most people respond well once diagnosed and treated.
Hyperthyroidism can look like other health issues, making it difficult for your doctor to diagnose. It can also cause a wide range of symptoms, including:
- Unintentional weight loss occurs when your appetite and food intake remain constant or increase.
- Rapid heartbeat (tachycardia) — more than 100 beats per minute is standard.
- Heartbeat irregularity (arrhythmia)
- Your heart is pounding (palpitations)
- Appetite stimulation
- Anxiety, nervousness, and irritability
- Tremor is characterized by a fine trembling in your hands and fingers.
- Changes in menstrual cycles
- Heat sensitivity has increased.
- Changes in bowel habits, particularly more frequent bowel movements
- A goiter is an enlarged thyroid gland that can manifest as a swelling at the base of your neck.
- Muscle weakness, fatigue
- Sleeping problems
- Skin thinness
- The hair is fine and brittle.
Older adults are more likely to have no symptoms or subtle ones, such as an increased heart rate, heat intolerance, and a tendency to become tired during everyday activities.