Hyperthyroidism | Symptoms

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What are the symptoms of hyperthyroidism?

Hyperthyroidism usually begins slowly, so its symptoms can be mistaken for stress or other health problems. It can cause a variety of symptoms, including:

  • Weight loss
  • Rapid heartbeat, irregular heartbeat or pounding of the heart
  • Nervousness, anxiety or irritability
  • Tremors (trembling of the hands and fingers)
  • Changes in menstrual patterns (usually lighter flow, less frequent periods) in women
  • Increased sensitivity to heat
  • Increased perspiration
  • Changes in bowel patterns
  • An enlarged thyroid gland (called a goiter), which can appear as a swelling at the base of the neck
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle weakness
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Increased appetite

Older adults may have subtle symptoms, such as increased heart rate, increased perspiration and a tendency to become more tired during normal activities.

If your hyperthyroidism is caused by Graves’ disease, you may also have Graves’ opthalmopathy, a disorder that affects your eyes. These symptoms may show up before, after or at the same time as your symptoms of hyperthyroidism. In Graves' opthalmopathy, the muscles behind the eyes swell and push the eyeballs forward. Often, the eyeballs will actually bulge out of their normal position. The front surfaces of the eyeballs become can dry, red and swollen. You may notice excessive tearing or discomfort in your eyes, sensitivity to light, blurry or double vision, and less eye movement.

Source

Hyperthyroidism: Diagnosis and Treatment by JR Reid, M.D., and SF Wheeler, M.D. (American Family Physician August 15, 2005, http://www.aafp.org/afp/20050815/623.html)

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 03/14
Created: 08/05

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