URL path: Index page // Blog // Hormones - HormoneScan® // Hyperthyroidism. Symptoms, Causes, Lab Tests, Treatment
Hormones - HormoneScan®

Hyperthyroidism. Symptoms, Causes, Lab Tests, Treatment

Hyperthyroidism, also known as an overactive thyroid, is a medical condition that occurs when the thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormones (T3 and T4). The thyroid gland is a small, butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of the neck. It plays an important role in regulating the body's metabolism, or the way it uses energy.

Causes of Hyperthyroidism

There are several different causes of hyperthyroidism, including Graves' disease, toxic nodular goiter, and subacute thyroiditis. Graves' disease is the most common cause and occurs when the immune system produces antibodies that stimulate the thyroid gland to produce more thyroid hormone than the body needs. Toxic nodular goiter is another cause and occurs when one or more nodules in the thyroid gland produce too much thyroid hormone. Subacute thyroiditis is a temporary condition that occurs when the thyroid gland becomes inflamed and releases excess thyroid hormone.

Hyperthyroidism Symptoms

The symptoms of hyperthyroidism can vary depending on the severity of the condition, but common symptoms include:

  • Weight loss
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Nervousness or anxiety
  • Increased sweating
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Trembling hands
  • Changes in menstrual patterns
  • Increased bowel movements
  • Heat intolerance
  • Enlarged thyroid gland (goiter)
  • Eye problems, such as bulging eyes or vision changes (in Graves' disease)
Hyperthyroidism Complications

Hyperthyroidism can cause a variety of complications if left untreated or poorly managed. Some potential complications of hyperthyroidism are:

Thyrotoxicosis: A rare but potentially life-threatening complication of hyperthyroidism, where excessive levels of thyroid hormone cause a sudden and severe worsening of symptoms, such as high fever, rapid heart rate, and altered mental status. Immediate medical attention is necessary in this situation.

Heart problems: Hyperthyroidism can cause rapid heart rate, irregular heartbeat, and high blood pressure, which can increase the risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.

Osteoporosis: Excessive thyroid hormone can lead to bone loss, which can increase the risk of fractures and osteoporosis.

Eye problems: In some cases of hyperthyroidism, inflammation of the eye muscles can occur, leading to eye problems such as bulging eyes, double vision, and eye pain.

Thyroid nodules and cancer: Long-standing hyperthyroidism can increase the risk of developing thyroid nodules and thyroid cancer.

Mental health problems: Hyperthyroidism can cause mood changes, anxiety, and irritability, and in some cases can lead to psychiatric disorders such as depression and psychosis.

Pregnancy complications: Untreated or poorly managed hyperthyroidism during pregnancy can increase the risk of miscarriage, preterm birth, and other complications for both the mother and baby.

Guide to Hyperthyroidism Lab Testing

Hyperthyroidism can be diagnosed through a combination of clinical examination, symptoms, and laboratory testing.

Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH): This test measures the level of TSH in the blood, which is produced by the pituitary gland to stimulate the thyroid gland to produce thyroid hormones. In hyperthyroidism, the TSH level is usually low, as the thyroid gland is already producing too much thyroid hormone and there is no need for stimulation.

Free thyroxine (FT4) and free triiodothyronine (FT3): These tests measure the levels of the thyroid hormones T4 and T3, respectively, in the blood. In hyperthyroidism, these levels are usually elevated, as the thyroid gland is producing too much hormone.

Thyroid autoantibody tests: These tests detect the presence of antibodies that are produced by the immune system in some forms of hyperthyroidism, such as Graves' disease. Common thyroid autoantibody tests are thyroid peroxidase antibodies (anti-TPO), thyroglobulin antibodies (anti-TG), and thyrotropin receptor antibodies (TRAb).

Thyroid ultrasound: It can help identify the size and shape of the gland and any nodules or abnormalities that may be present.

Radioactive iodine uptake (RAIU) test: This test measures how much radioactive iodine is taken up by the thyroid gland. In hyperthyroidism, the thyroid gland may take up more iodine than normal, indicating that it is overactive.

It's important to note that laboratory test results should be interpreted in the context of a patient's clinical history, symptoms, and physical examination.

Guide to Functional Medicine Lab Testing

Functional medicine lab tests for hyperthyroidism may include the following:

Comprehensive Thyroid Panel: This test evaluates the levels of TSH, free T3, free T4, reverse T3 (rT3), and thyroid antibodies to assess thyroid function and autoimmunity.

Adrenal Function Test AdrenalScan®: This test measures the levels of cortisol and DHEA-S, to evaluate the adrenal function, as the adrenal glands work in concert with the thyroid gland.

Comprehensive Metabolic Panel (CMP): This test evaluates the levels of various metabolic markers, such as glucose, electrolytes, liver, and kidney function, to assess overall health and to rule out other conditions that may mimic hyperthyroidism.

Heavy Metal Toxicity Testing: Heavy metal exposure, such as lead and mercury, can impair thyroid function and exacerbate hyperthyroidism. Testing for heavy metal toxicity may be indicated if a patient has a history of exposure or if symptoms do not improve with conventional treatments.

Food Intolerance Testing with TrophoScan®: Certain foods, such as gluten, dairy, and soy, can trigger autoimmune reactions that may affect thyroid function. Testing for food sensitivities may be helpful in identifying dietary triggers that may exacerbate hyperthyroidism.

Gut Health Testing with EnteroScan®: The health of the gut microbiome and digestive function can impact thyroid function, immune function, and overall health. Testing for gut dysbiosis, intestinal permeability, and digestive enzymes may be indicated in some cases of hyperthyroidism.

Functional medicine lab testing may provide valuable information to guide treatment strategies and address underlying imbalances contributing to hyperthyroidism.

Treatment for Hyperthyroidism

Treatment options for hyperthyroidism depend on the cause and severity of the condition. Options may include:

Anti-thyroid medication: These medications work by blocking the production of thyroid hormones in the thyroid gland.

Radioactive iodine therapy: This treatment involves taking a small dose of radioactive iodine, which is absorbed by the thyroid gland and destroys the cells that produce thyroid hormones.

Surgery: In some cases, surgery may be necessary to remove all or part of the thyroid gland.

Beta-blockers: These medications can help manage symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, tremors, and anxiety.

Natural Therapies for Hyperthyroidism

There are several natural therapies that may be beneficial for individuals with hyperthyroidism, although it is important to consult with a healthcare practitioner before starting any new treatments.

Diet: A healthy diet that is rich in nutrient-dense foods, such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats, may support thyroid function and overall health. It may also be helpful to avoid or limit foods that may exacerbate hyperthyroidism symptoms, such as caffeine, sugar, alcohol, and processed foods. Some people with hyperthyroidism may also benefit from a gluten-free diet.

Stress Reduction: Chronic stress can contribute to hyperthyroidism and exacerbate symptoms. Mind-body therapies such as meditation, yoga, and deep breathing exercises may help reduce stress and support overall well-being.

Herbal Supplements: Certain herbs may help support thyroid function and reduce hyperthyroidism symptoms. Examples include ashwagandha, bugleweed, motherwort, and lemon balm. However, it is important to consult with a healthcare practitioner before taking any new herbal supplements, as some may interact with medications or have potential side effects.

Nutritional Supplements: Nutritional deficiencies, such as selenium, zinc, and vitamin D, may contribute to thyroid imbalances. Supplementation with these nutrients may help support thyroid function and improve symptoms.

Acupuncture: Acupuncture may help reduce hyperthyroidism symptoms and support overall well-being. It may also help balance the body's energy systems and support the immune system.

It is important to note that natural therapies should not be used as a substitute for conventional medical treatment, but rather as a complementary approach to support overall health and well-being.


Vasilis J. Sideris
Medical Doctor, Biopathologist
Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner, CFMP

Share it