Consumer Health: What is hyperthyroidism?

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Hyperthyroidism, or overactive thyroid, occurs when your thyroid produces too much of the hormone thyroxine. Your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of your neck. It produces hormones that regulate your heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature and weight.

Hyperthyroidism can mimic other health problems, which can make it difficult for your health care provider to diagnose. It can accelerate your body’s metabolism, causing a wide variety of signs and symptoms, including unintentional weight loss, rapid or irregular heartbeat, increased appetite, nervousness, fatigue, and difficulty sleeping.

Untreated hyperthyroidism can lead to a number of health problems, including heart disease and osteoporosis.

Several treatments are available for hyperthyroidism, including anti-thyroid medications and radioactive iodine to slow the production of thyroid hormones. Sometimes hyperthyroidism treatment involves surgery to remove all or part of your thyroid gland.

Here’s what you need to know about hyperthyroidism.

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