Symptoms of hyperthyroidism

Jul 10, 2012 , Tereza Kratochvílová

priznaky-hypertyreozy.jpg - kopie
priznaky-hypertyreozy.jpg - kopie
The symptoms of hyperthyroidism, the increased function of the thyroid gland derive from the increased concentration of hormones in the body. Among the symptoms are and increased heart rate, loss of weight, agitation etc. High concentration of thyroid hormones can even lead to thyrotoxicosis, a state endangering the patient's life.


Hyperthyroidism, the increased function of the thyroid gland is a fairly common disease, which will affect around 1% of the population at some part of their lives. The most common cause of hyperthyroidism is the Graves-Basedow disease, which is an autoimmune inflammation of the thyroid gland forming 60-80% of all cases. Nodules and adenomas form the rest of the causes of this disease. 

Thyroid gland

The thyroid gland is a small organ which greatly influences our entire organism. It releases two very important hormones, triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4), which influence nearly all of the processes in the human body. These hormones mainly influence the body's metabolism, energy management, use of oxygen in tissues, they also apply during growth and during development of the nervous system in childhood. Last but not least, the influence the function of other hormones. If the thyroid gland is damaged in any way, the levels of thyroid hormones are not optimal, which manifests negatively on the function of practically all organs of our body.

Symptoms of hyperthyroidism

Symptoms of hyperthyroidism are proportional to the extent and duration of the disease. If the gland produces a larger amount of hormones, that is required, hyperthyroidism occurs, sometimes also known as a thyrotoxicosis. Hyperthyroidism is diagnosed based on thyroid hormonal levels in blood and physical examination based on palpation and observation. Hyperthyroidism also manifests as a range of unpleasant symptoms.

  • The gland tends to visibly swell during hyperthyroidism, forming a goiter. 
  • The patient finds himself in a hypermetabolic state due to the increased hormonal levels. Outwardly this mainly manifests as a weight loss, even with regular or increased caloric intake. 
  • Increased peristaltics cause diarrhea.
  • The patient appears “sped up”, speaks rapidly, is restless, makes many unnecessary motions. Shaking can be present, especially on hands. Although the patient appears to be full of energy, he feels tired and weak.
  • Excess of hormones causes poor, insufficient sleep, not providing needed rest.
  • Hyperthyroidism also manifests through rapid mood swings, with possible depressions or issues with concentration. 
  • The skin is warm and sweaty, with overall intolerance of warm environment. 
  • The circulatory system reacts to increased hormonal levels by increased blood pressure and heartbeat, the heart works more intensively, arrhythmias can occur. 
  • The weakening of respiratory muscles causes a feeling of being out of breath.
  • High levels of T3 and T4 also have a negative influence on the reproductive system. Women miss their menstruation and suffer from lower fertility or even infertility. Men suffer from lower fertility and occasionally from erectile dysfunction. 
  • A specific symptom of the Graves-Basedow disease is exophtalmos, noticeably protruding, bulging eyeballs.

Causes of hyperthyroidism

The causes of hyperthyroidism are varied. The most common cause is Graves-Basedow disease, during which the immune system attacks cells of the body, which the break apart and release their contents into their surroundings. In the cause of the thyroid gland, this is triiodothyronine and thyroxine. Hyperthyroidism can also by caused by a nodular struma, which is the development of nodules which produce more hormones. Other possible cause is a tumor called an adenoma, which increases the amount of hormone producing cells. Various inflammatory diseases of the thyroid gland can also be a cause. A chronic inflammation known as a Hashimoto's thyroiditis is the most common cause of decreased function of the thyroid gland, but it manifests as a hyperthyroidism in the beginning. The cause of hyperthyroidism may not always be an improper state of the thyroid gland. During a hypophysal adenoma a large amount of a THS hormone is released, which directly influence the thyroid gland's activity, which then produces an overabundance of hormones. The hypophysis is an organ found in the brain, which works as a control center, its damage can cause both hypo- and hyperthyroidism.

Hyperthyroidism can also be caused by an overproduction of choriogonadotropin hormone, for example during pregnancy. Sometimes, hyperthyroidism occurs due to an overdose of drugs used to treat hypothyroidism.

Risk factors of hyperthyroidism

The risk factors of hyperthyroidism are mainly age and genetic predisposition. The most threatened group are women above the age of 50. Should you discover any of these symptoms in you, you should visit your doctor, who will determine your levels of thyroid hormones in blood. If you already had a thyroid disease tied to hyperthyroidism in your family, it does not pay to underestimate any symptoms, no matter how slight. If you've already been diagnosed with a disease, you should follow your treatment strictly, remember your regular examinations at the doctor's and get plenty of rest to achieve an improvement of your state.

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