We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is an Overactive Thyroid?

Malcolm Tatum
By
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

An overactive thyroid, also known as hyperthyroidism, is a condition in which the thyroid gland produces an overabundance of thyroid hormone. This overproduction can lead to a number of emotional and physical ailments that may masquerade as signs of other health issues. While many people think that an overactive thyroid only occurs in women, men may also experience the production of an excessive amount of thyroid hormone. In all cases, there are several forms of treatment that can bring relief.

When functioning properly, the thyroid gland produces two specific hormones: triiodothyronine or T3 and thyroxine, known as T4. Together, these hormones help to regulate many functions in the body, including digestion, heart function, and the growth process. When the thyroid becomes overactive, these hormones are released throughout the body and essentially speed up a number of functions, including the responses of the nervous system to different stimuli.

As a result, an individual with an overactive thyroid may experience a wide range of physical and emotional problems. Often events and situations that normally would cause no distress easily irritate the individual. A sudden sensitivity to even the smallest sounds may trigger panic attacks. The individual may begin to have difficulty remembering things, or suddenly have difficulty with performing routine tasks. Heart palpitations, severe changes in appetite, and extreme fatigue are not unusual symptoms. A goiter or a protrusion of the eyes are common signs of an overactive thyroid that are fairly common. Often, the overactive thyroid will also cause insomnia, which places more stress on a body that is already in overdrive.

There are many causes for an overactive thyroid. The development of Graves Disease, or an enlargement of the thyroid gland, is a malfunction of the body’s immune system which causes the production of antibodies that are used against the thyroid gland. As a result, the gland begins to enlarge and overproduce hormones. Too much iodine in the diet may lead to thyroid problems of this type. Damage to the thyroid gland through shock or trauma may lead to overproduction of hormones and begin to create health issues. There is even some evidence that an overactive thyroid may be a hereditary disease.

Fortunately, there are several ways to treat an overactive thyroid. Drug therapy is usually the first defense. Antithyroid medications help to inhibit the production of T3 and T4 and restore normal levels within the body. As the level of thyroid hormones begin to return to normal, the symptoms fade and eventually disappear altogether.

When drugs alone are not sufficient, radioactive iodine therapy is usually the next step. This involves swallowing a capsule that contains radioactive iodine. The iodine permeates through the thyroid gland and kills off a portion of the cells. As a result, the thyroid gland shrinks in size and is unable to produce excessive amounts of hormones. However, this type of therapy does not inhibit the thyroid from eventually recovering from the effects of the radioactive iodine and begin to produce high amounts of hormones at a later date.

In some cases, the only effective treatment for an overactive thyroid is to undergo surgery. Known as a thyroidectomy, this involves removing all or a portion of the thyroid gland. The entire gland is only removed if there is no way to leave a portion that is capable of producing the correct amount of hormones. When the thyroid is completely removed, hormone replacement therapy is required in order to provide appropriate levels of T3 and T4 in the body.

While an overactive thyroid can be physically and mentally debilitating, the broad range of treatments available today make it possible to correct the situation and restore a proper balance to the body. Doctors are usually able to identify the presence of an overactive thyroid with a combination of a physical examination and blood work to determine thyroid hormone levels in the body. Once a diagnosis has been confirmed, a doctor can initiate the proper treatment and provide relief to the patient.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including The Health Board, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.
Discussion Comments
By anon86269 — On May 24, 2010

I have an overactive thyroid and I am taking meds. every day, twice a day (three tablets). now I now am going to be taking (four tablets twice daily). it has caused my vision to become double so where do I go from here, I wonder! Just left the doctor's office. We'll see how this works.

By anon26568 — On Feb 15, 2009

Can you tell me what is meant by cold nodules please?

By anon22120 — On Nov 28, 2008

Thank you for your help, I have had the ultra sound and it has shown up 3 nodules. 5.2mm x 4.4mm - right thyroid - 17.2mm x 16.8mm - thyroid left 20mm x 13.3mm. I am to continue taking the medication and have another ultrasound in 6mths time. The Dr said they were Cold nodules...

Thank you again for your help

By anon21904 — On Nov 24, 2008

It sounds as if your doctor is merely looking into the situation efficiently. This is to your advantage, since if any of the tests turn up some minor factor that has the potential to become a major issue, it can be treated before the situation has a chance to worsen. Unless your doctor indicated some sense of urgency or seems to be disturbed by your symptoms, remain calm and don't allow your imagination to work overtime.

By anon21789 — On Nov 21, 2008

I have just had a blood test and my dr found that my thyroid was slightly high 20.66 pmol/L - 1.60ng/dL, he has given me some pills metimazol 5mg. i am to take one 3 times a week and i also have a thyroid echograph on monday. Can you tell me if this is anything to worry about or is my Dr just being cautious?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
Learn more
The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.