Hyperthyroidism creates excess thyroid hormone. Since the thyroid gland produces hormones that regulate the body's metabolism, not surprisingly, the disease increases the body's normal metabolic functions. This leads to weight loss, increased appetite, a fast or irregular heartbeat, sweating, nervousness, irritability, fatigue, and muscle weakness. Graves' disease, the leading cause of hyperthyroidism, is characterized by puffy or bulging eyes, light sensitivity, double vision, and increased tears. It can also lead to thick skin that feels hard to the touch. Goiter (an enlarged thyroid gland) is another way hyperthyroidism affects the body. It can make the neck appear swollen.
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If your thyroid gland makes too much thyroid hormone, you may have symptoms of hyperthyroidism. Most hyperthyroidism is caused by an immune system problem called Graves' disease. At first, your hyperthyroidism may make you feel hot, have tremors in your hands or lose weight. Over time, you may notice that your heart is beating fast, that you feel anxious or that you are having a lot of bowel movements. You may also feel like you just don't have as much energy as usual.
Hyperthyroidism typically does not go away on its own. Most people need treatment to make hyperthyroidism go away. After treatment, many people develop hypothyroidism (too little thyroid hormone).
In rare cases, hyperthyroidism can cause a life-threatening condition called thyroid storm, which occurs when the thyroid gland releases large amounts of thyroid hormones in a short period of time.
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