Seek timely treatment by recognizing some of the most common hyperthyroidism symptoms.
In this article:
- Body Temperature Problems (Heat Intolerance, Increased Sweating)
- Weight Loss Despite Increased Appetite
- Weight Gain
- Hair Loss
- Heart Rate Irregularities
- Sleep Pattern Disturbances
- Infrequent Menstruation
- Reproductive System Irregularities in Men
- Hand Tremors
11 Common Hyperthyroidism Symptoms to Look Out For
1. Body Temperature Problems (Heat Intolerance, Increased Sweating)
The thyroid is an endocrine gland that produces some of the hormones responsible for regulating physiological processes such as metabolism, heart rate, and body temperature. Irregular production of thyroid hormone affects these processes.
In the process of regulating body temperature, the thyroid hormones can influence blood vessel dilation. The rate of dilation affects the amount of heat that can escape the body.
The release of too many thyroid hormones, which happens in hyperthyroidism, will make a person feel too hot. While the release of too little thyroid hormones, which happens in hypothyroidism, will make a person feel too cold.
People with hyperthyroidism often report feeling hot when everybody else is cold or when in cold climates. The condition will make you sweat more than usual or even run a low-grade fever.
You may also feel intolerant to heat, especially after working out.
Endocrine Gland Definition: This is a gland that releases hormones directly into the blood instead of a duct. Some of the major endocrine glands include the thyroid and parathyroid gland, pancreas, pituitary gland, testes, adrenal glands, hypothalamus, and ovaries.
2. Weight Loss Despite Increased Appetite
As mentioned above, the thyroid releases hormones that affect metabolism—the chemical process where food is broken down and transformed into energy.
The irregularity in the production of thyroid hormones can affect your metabolic rate—this measures how much energy you use over a period of time. The same is true with your basal metabolic rate—the rate at which the body uses energy while at rest.
When you have an overactive thyroid, the excess hormones may lead to high basal metabolic rate. This means the body burns more energy while at rest.
This leads the body to a more frequent state of hunger and thirst since it’s losing more energy than usual.
This is why many people with hyperthyroidism shed pounds easily even without a significant change in diet and physical activity. They may also lose or fail to gain weight even with increased intake of food.
Despite this, you should remember there are other hormones at play in the process of metabolism, not the thyroid hormones alone. The cause of weight gain or loss in thyroid conditions isn’t solely thyroid hormone levels.
3. Weight Gain
In some hyperthyroidism cases, the reverse happens—patients gain weight.
As the basal metabolic rate increases due to the excessive thyroid hormones, appetite increases, too. In some people, to the point where they take more calories in than they burn, canceling out the effect of higher basal metabolic rate.
4. Hair Loss
Hair loss is very common with people with thyroid conditions because the thyroid hormones happen to play a part, too, in hair growth.
If you have hyperthyroidism, you might notice hair loss or thinning across the whole scalp. In some cases, hair loss may also happen in isolated areas of the scalp, leading to smooth, round bald patches.
To take it a little bit further, some patients also lose hair on the outer edges of their eyebrows.
Hair texture is also affected. With hyperthyroidism, hair strands tend to become extra fine and soft.
The good news with thyroid-related hair loss is you can reverse it by getting your thyroid hormone levels adjusted through medication. Doctors may also suggest the intake of medications that promote fast hair growth like Rogaine (Minoxidil) and Propecia (Finasteride).
5. Heart Rate Irregularities
Rapid heart rate is one of the most common indicators of hyperthyroidism. The surplus of thyroid hormones caused by condition changes the nervous system’s control of the heart.
As a result, hyperthyroidism patients often experience tachycardia, a heart rate over 90 beats per minute.
While we’re talking about the effects of hyperthyroidism on the heart, there are two more conditions we might as well discuss.
- The dysfunction of the thyroid’s hormone secretion also increases the blood pumped into the heart. This is especially important for patients with weak hearts to know as this may result in heart failure.
- Atrial fibrillation is also a common symptom—an irregular heart rhythm caused by the disorder in the beating of the atria. This disrupts the rhythm of the distribution of blood to the larger, stronger ventricles of the heart, which results in inefficient pumping of blood throughout the body.
Atria Definition: These are the two upper chambers of the heart through which blood enters.
6. Sleep Pattern Disturbances
Our hormones are the body’s chemical messengers.
When something’s off with them, in the case of hyperthyroidism, the overproduction of thyroid hormones, body processes are compromised. Sleep pattern is one of the casualties.
Acting as a stimulant, the excessive amounts of thyroid hormone can make some patients overly active—like they’re extremely caffeinated. Sleep-related symptoms of hyperthyroidism include frequent waking, restlessness, insomnia, anxiety, and tremors.
Some patients, on the other hand, report feeling fatigued and exhausted but unable to sleep, remain asleep, and get a restful sleep.
When the body has high levels of thyroid hormones, gut motility is increased resulting in frequent bowel movements in hyperthyroidism patients.
Gut Motility Definition: refers to the contraction of the muscles that digest the food we eat and process our excretions. Increased gut motility decreases the large intestine’s time window to reabsorb the water from the food residue resulting in frequent, loose, watery stools.
The formation of goiter, an enlarged thyroid gland because of the excessive secretion of thyroid hormones, may occur in some hyperthyroidism patients.
Goiters may not have signs or symptoms but when they occur, they may include:
- Visible swelling at the base of the neck
- A feeling of tightness in the throat
- Difficulty swallowing and breathing
9. Infrequent Menstruation
Women’s menstrual cycle is one of the many bodily processes affected by hyperthyroidism. One of the most common manifestations of this is absent or infrequent periods.
The increased levels of thyroid hormone indirectly increase sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) which happens to prevent ovulation.
10. Reproductive System Irregularities in Men
In men, thyrotoxicosis results in the conversion of testosterone to estradiol, a type of estrogen. As a result, hyperthyroidism in men can manifest the following symptoms:
- Sex drive decrease
- Erectile dysfunction
- Gynecomastia or swelling of the breast tissue
- Decreased or abnormal sperm production
Thyrotoxicosis Definition: A term used to refer to the state where the body has high levels of thyroid hormones.
11. Hand Tremors
An overactive thyroid gland can boost the energy production of the cells resulting in excessive nervous stimuli, causing hand tremors.
The shaking can range from being subtle to being so extreme that carrying a glass of water without spilling it is impossible.
The tremor intensity is dependent on the general nerve excitability and the degree of the increase in thyroid hormone production.
Treatments for the tremor include the intake of antithyroid drugs. Depending on the indication, patients may be advised to undergo surgery or radiofrequency ablation of the thyroid.
For more information on hyperthyroidism, check out this video from Rehealthify:
If you or a loved one are experiencing some of the listed symptoms above, visit a doctor ASAP to have a proper evaluation. A simple blood test, the thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) test, can rule out or confirm hyperthyroidism.
Remember, early diagnosis allows early treatment and prevention of potential complications.
Do you have any questions about hyperthyroidism? Let us know in the comments section below!
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