Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone. This leads to an increase in your metabolism—the way your body produces energy.
In addition to causing enlargement of the thyroid gland, hyperthyroidism can cause a number of symptoms, including:
- Sensitivity to heat
- Trouble concentrating
- Weight loss
- Frequent bowel movements
- Increased hunger
- Nervousness and restlessness
- In women, irregular menstrual periods
If your primary care physician thinks you might have hyperthyroidism, the diagnosis should be confirmed by an endocrinologist before you make an appointment at Roswell Park.
When you come to Roswell Park for treatment of hyperthyroidism, we will work closely with your endocrinologist to create a treatment plan that will work best for you. Usually this involves removing or destroying all or part of the thyroid gland with surgery or radioactive iodine.
If the entire thyroid gland is removed, you will take medication for the rest of your life to replace the thyroid hormone that will no longer be produced by your thyroid.
The thyroid gland can also be partially or completely ablated (destroyed) with the use of radioactive iodine, which is taken as a pill. This treatment is given on an outpatient basis and works over a period of one to two months. Because the thyroid gland is the only part of the body that absorbs iodine, the radiation has little effect on non-thyroid cells. The treatment is safe and has been widely used since the 1950s. Most, if not all, patients who receive radioactive iodine for treatment of hyperthyroidism will also eventually need lifelong hormone replacement therapy.
Patients who have hyperthyroidism treatment will have an excellent chance of returning to good health, free of thyroid-related symptoms.