Hyperthyroidism Signs, Symptoms, and Diagnosis

Signs and Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism, Tests for Hyperthyroidism

Woman self-examining her throat
There are a number of symptoms, as well as tests, that help you tell if you are hyperthyroid. VOISIN/Canopy/Getty

Hyperthyroidism is defined as an overactive thyroid. Your thyroid is the master gland of metabolism, and when it is overactive, you will have symptoms that show a speeding up of many different processes.

Signs and Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism

Some of the common symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:

  • anxiety
  • fatigue
  • nervousness
  • panic attacks
  • goiter, an enlarged thyroid gland
  • a choking sensation
  • pain or tenderness in the neck
  • hoarseness.
  • weight loss during pregnancy
  • excessive nausea and/or vomiting in pregnancy
  • feeling warm or hot when others are cold
  • excessive thirst
  • excessive sweating
  • exercise intolerance
  • weight loss, without dieting or restricting calories
  • rapid weight loss after pregnancy
  • an increased appetite with no weight gain
  • tremors
  • heart palpitations and flutters
  • changes in your heart rhythm
  • a high pulse
  • high blood pressure
  • changes to hair -- thinner, silkier
  • changes to skin --- softer, smoother
  • diarrhea or loose bowels
  • insomnia
  • lack of menstrual periods
  • sensitivity to light
  • dry eyes
  • double vision and other visual disturbances
  • eyes bulging
  • inability to close your eyelids
  • weakness in the arms and legs
  • bumps on the face
  • worsening acne
  • flushing in the face
  • reddish-brown lesions on the shins and lower legs
  • nails that break easily
  • swelling and widening or fingertips and toes
  • difficulty concentrating
  • mood swings
  • uncontrollable anger
  • fast reflexes
  • easy startling
  • hyperactivity or temper tantrums in children
  • delayed puberty

Read more about the risks and symptoms of hyperthyroidism and see this checklist of hyperthyroidism symptoms.

Diagnosis of Hyperthyroidism

Diagnosis of hyperthyroidism typically involves a clinical thyroid examination by your physician.

You doctor should also take your personal and family medical history. Blood tests typically look at:

  • TSH, which is typically below the reference range
  • Free T4, which is typically above the reference range
  • Free T3, which is typically above the reference range
  • Thyroid Stimulating Immunoglobulins, which are usually elevated in hyperthyroidism caused by Graves' disease

In some cases, imaging tests such as ultrasound or a thyroid uptake test may be used to help determine if the hyperthyroidism is due to nodules, or Graves' disease.

Read more about how Graves' disease and hyperthyroidism are diagnosed.

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