What is Hyperthyroidism?

Hyperthyroidism, also called overactive thyroid, occurs when your body makes too much thyroid hormone.

Many diseases and conditions can cause Hyperthyroidism, including:

  • Graves disease (most common cause of hyperthyroidism)
  • Inflammation (thyroiditis) of the thyroid due to viral infections, some medicines, or after pregnancy (common)
  • Taking too much thyroid hormone (common)
  • Noncancerous growths of the thyroid gland or pituitary gland (rare)
  • Some tumors of the testes or ovaries (rare)
  • Getting medical imaging tests with contrast dye that has iodine (rare, and only if there is already a problem with the thyroid)
  • Eating too much of foods that contain iodine (very rare, and only if there is already a problem with the thyroid)

If you think you are experiencing Hyperthyroidism, it is important to contact your doctor, as the condition can only be diagnosed via evaluation and testing.

At your appointment, your doctor will likely check for:

  • An enlarged thyroid gland
  • Rapid pulse
  • Moist skin
  • Eye changes
  • Tremors in fingers or hands

Currently, there is no routine testing recommended for Hyperthyroidism, as less than 5% of the U.S. population experiences the condition.

You’re more likely than others to develop an overactive thyroid condition if you:

  • Were born female
  • Have a family history of thyroid disease
  • Are younger than 40 or older than 60
  • Have certain problems, such as type 1 diabetes, pernicious anemia, or an immune system disorder
  • Consume large amounts of iodine, either through food or medicine

Symptoms of an overactive thyroid can include:

  • nervousness, anxiety and irritability
  • hyperactivity—you may find it hard to stay still and have a lot of nervous energy
  • mood swings
  • difficulty sleeping
  • feeling tired all the time
  • sensitivity to heat
  • muscle weakness
  • diarrhoea
  • needing to pee more often than usual
  • persistent thirst
  • itchiness

Other signs of the condition are:

  • a swelling in your neck caused by an enlarged thyroid gland (goitre)
  • an irregular and/or unusually fast heart rate (palpitations)
  • twitching or trembling
  • warm skin and excessive sweating
  • red palms of your hands
  • loose nails
  • a raised, itchy rash—known as hives (urticaria)
  • patchy hair loss or thinning
  • weight loss—often despite an increased appetite
  • eye problems, such as redness, dryness or vision problems (see complications of an overactive thyroid)

It is important to contact your doctor if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.

Go to the emergency room or call 911 if you have these symptoms:

  • You experience a decrease in consciousness
  • You have a fever
  • Your heartrate is rapid or irregular
  • You are short of breath

Don’t smoke

Smoking has been linked to the development of thyroid eye disease. It also can make that condition worse. And smoking can cause symptoms to come back after treatment.

Keep your eyes lubricated

Eye drops may help relieve dryness and scratchiness. A cool compress also can provide moisture. If your eyes don’t completely close, a lubricating gel at bedtime may help keep the cornea from drying out. Some people also tape their eyelids shut while they sleep.

Protect your eyes

Wear sunglasses to help protect your eyes from the sun and wind.

Keep your head up

Raising the head of your bed may lessen swelling and ease pressure on your eyes.

Use creams for swollen skin

Creams containing hydrocortisone that you can buy without a prescription (Cortizone 10, others) may help ease swollen skin on the shins and feet. For help finding these creams, ask a pharmacist.

If you have Hyperthyroidism, we recommend you seek this treatment every year. All of these recommended treatments are covered by AHDI in our Standards of Care.

  • One visit to the doctor per year
  • One set of Thyroid Function Tests (TSH and T4) per year

For more information, visit


What is Hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism is when the thyroid gland doesn’t make enough thyroid hormones to meet your body’s needs. The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland in the front of your neck. Thyroid hormones control the way the body uses energy, so they affect nearly every organ in your body, even the way your heart beats. Without enough thyroid hormones, many of your body’s functions slow down.

Common causes of hypothyroidism are autoimmune disease, surgical removal of the thyroid, and radiation treatment. Low thyroid hormone levels cause the body’s functions to slow down, leading to general symptoms like

  • dry skin
  • fatigue
  • loss of energy
  • memory problems

Hypothyroidism is diagnosed by a simple blood test for thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and can be treated by replacing the missing thyroid hormone with synthetic thyroxine pills, which usually must be taken every day for life. With daily treatment, most patients recover completely.

Currently, there is no routine testing recommended for Hypothyroidism, as only 5% of the U.S. population experiences the condition.

Although anyone can develop hypothyroidism, you’re at an increased risk if you:

  • Are a woman.
  • Have a family history of thyroid disease.
  • Have an autoimmune disease, such as type 1 diabetes or celiac disease.
  • Have received treatment for hyperthyroidism.
  • Received radiation to your neck or upper chest.
  • Have had thyroid surgery.

When your thyroid is underactive it can cause the following symptoms:

  • fatigue
  • weight gain
  • a puffy face
  • trouble tolerating cold
  • joint and muscle pain
  • constipation
  • dry skin
  • dry, thinning hair
  • decreased sweating
  • heavy or irregular menstrual periods
  • fertility problems
  • depression
  • slowed heart rate
  • goiter

It is important to contact your doctor if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.

Call 911 or other emergency services immediately if you or a person you know has hypothyroidism and has signs of myxedema coma, such as:

  • Mental deterioration, such as apathy, confusion, or psychosis.
  • Extreme weakness and fatigue that progress to loss of consciousness (coma).
  • Severe trouble breathing, slow heart rate (less than 60 beats per minute), or low body temperature [95°F (35°C) or below].

Eat a Healthy Diet

Eating a healthy diet that is low in fat, high in fiber and includes lots of fruits and vegetables will help you lose weight and/or maintain your weight. There’s no single diet or magical nutrient that will improve your thyroid function. Talk to your doctor or a nutritionist about the best way to eat to meet your health and fitness goals.

Shape Up

Aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week such as brisk walking and be sure to include some toning exercises that target key muscle groups including legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms. You don’t need to do it all in one spurt. Instead, break it up into smaller bouts throughout the day, and make sure it adds up to 30 minutes on at least five days a week.


Yoga, meditation, deep breathing, or just chilling out to some relaxing music can all help reduce stress and anxiety. Find a stress-reducing technique that works for you and incorporate it into your lifestyle.

Get better sleep

Set and stick to a regular wake and bedtime, keep your bedroom cool, cold and cave-like, and avoid caffeine after 2 PM.

Take Care of Your Health

Stay up to date with doctor visits and screening tests as well as wash your hands thoroughly before and after you eat, prepare food, or caring for someone who is sick.

If you have Hypothyroidism, we recommend you seek this treatment every year. All of these recommended treatments are covered by AHDI in our Standards of Care.

  • One regular visit to your doctor a year
  • One TSH per year

For more information, visit