Hyperthyroidism Signs, Symptoms, and Diagnosis

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 

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 during 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

Diagnosis 

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