Iodine Global Network (IGN)

Overactive thyroid: causes, symptoms and treatments

Thyroid disorders affect one in twenty people in the UK. Despite them being so common, there are still many who are unaware of what actually causes them and, most importantly, what the symptoms are. So, to coincide with Thyroid Awareness Week, we've pulled together a whole host of useful information surrounding a specific type of thyroid disorder called overactive thyroid (or hyperthyroidism).

According to Bupa, hyperthyroidism affects roughly one in 100 people in the UK. It’s also about six times more common in women than men. It occurs when too much thyroid hormone is present in the body. This can happen as a result of Graves' disease, which is where the body's immune system targets the thyroid gland, causing it to produce more thyroid hormone than the body needs; or Nodular thyroid disease - where lumps (or nodules) develop in the thyroid gland and produce more hormones. Certain medicines can also trigger the condition - particularly medication or supplements containing iodine.

According to NHS Choices, in rare cases an overactive thyroid can come about as a result of thyroid cancer, which starts off in the thyroid follicles. It has also been noted that thyroid problems can be hereditary. As a result, the British Thyroid Foundation recommends getting tested for the condition if a family member is diagnosed with the condition.


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