Definition of Hyperthyroidism
Hyperthyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland makes too much thyroid hormone. The condition is often referred to as an “overactive thyroid.”
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
The thyroid gland is an important organ of the endocrine system. It is located in the front of the neck just below the voice box. The gland produces the hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3), which control the way every cell in the body uses energy. This process is called your metabolism.
Signs and tests
Physical examination may reveal thyroid enlargement, tremor, hyperactive reflexes, or an increased heart rate. Systolic (the first number in a blood pressure reading) may be high.
How the condition is treated depends on the cause and the severity of symptoms. Hyperthyroidism is usually treated with one or more of the following:
Hyperthyroidism is generally treatable and only rarely is life threatening. Some of its causes may go away without treatment.
Ari S. Eckman, MD, Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 4/19/2010