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Hyperthyroidism, also known as an overactive thyroid, is a hormone imbalance affecting metabolism. It is caused by the overproduction of the thyroid hormone which in turn can be caused by several conditions, such as Graves disease, tumors of the thyroid gland, pituitary gland, testes or ovaries, inflammation of the thyroid, ingestion of excessive amounts of thyroid hormone and ingestion of excessive iodine. Graves disease is the most common cause.

There are several symptoms associated with hyperthyroidism. These include weight loss regardless of an increased appetite, nervousness, sensitivity to heat, fatigue, muscle cramps, frequent bowel movements, irregular periods, thirst, insomnia, clammy skin, nausea/vomiting, itching, hair loss, the development of breasts in men, high blood pressure and bone pain.

When your doctor gives you a check up he will probably be able to detect an enlarged thyroid gland or goiter. He will then refer you to do some laboratory tests which will determine whether you are suffering from an overactive thyroid. If the tests are positive, your doctor will proceed to find out the exact cause.

The cause determines the course of treatment to be taken. Common treatments include radioactive iodine and antithyroid medications but in some cases surgery is needed. Other medications are given to control the symptoms os hyperthyroidism, such as rapid heartbeat, anxiety and sweating, until the condition is kept under control.

If you recognise most of the symptoms mentioned above, do not hesitate to consult your GP. If left untreated, hyperthyroidism could cause complications.