Hyperthyroidism, or overactive thyroid, causes your thyroid to make more thyroid hormone than your body needs. This can also be referred to as thyrotoxicosis, which refers to high thyroid hormone levels in the blood stream, irrespective of their source. The symptoms can be subtle, variable, and easily attributable to other causes, so the way to know for sure if you have hyperthyroidism is a simple blood test.
The most common type of hyperthyroidism is Graves' Disease.
Thyroid disease runs in families, so talk to your family members to find out if you're at higher risk.
Thyroid disease not treated with medicine can cause health problems for the mother, including premature delivery (before 39 weeks of pregnancy), preeclampsia, or miscarriage. Untreated thyroid disease can also cause health problems for the baby, including heart failure or problems with growth and brain development.
There is no single treatment that is best for all patients with hyperthyroidism. The right choice for you will depend on your age, the type and severity of your hyperthyroidism, other medical conditions you might have, and your own preference.
The main treatments include:
Antithyroid medicine. These medicines keep the thyroid gland from making too much thyroid hormone. They are often given to patients before thyroid surgery or radioiodine therapy.
Radioactive iodine (RAI). RAI is a type of iodine that destroys thyroid cells so that your thyroid gland cannot make as much thyroid hormone. This cures the overactive thyroid gland, but it can lead to underactive thyroid gland. If this happens, you will need to take thyroid hormone for the rest of your life.
Surgery to remove all or most of the thyroid. As with RAI, surgery cures overactive thyroid but can lead to underactive thyroid.
If you are diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, it may be a good idea to see an endocrinologist who is experienced in the treatment of hyperthyroid patients.