Hyperthyroidism is also known as Thyrotoxicosis or Graves' disease and is a condition in which the thyroid gland produces excess thyroid hormone (thyroxine) which results in effects on the whole body.
The thyroid gland controls the body's metabolic rate. In thyrotoxicosis, the rate of metabolism is increased and this results in most of the following symptoms:
Weight loss despite an increased appetite
Rapid heart rate
A fine tremor
Increased nervousness and emotional instability
Intolerance of heat
Staring, bulging eyes
Enlargement of the thyroid gland which is at the front of the neck
The cause is usually the body developing an immune response against itself, in particular the receptors responsible for triggering the production of thyroxine. So, antibodies attach themselves to these receptors and thus cause production of thyroxine.
Your doctor will give you a blood test if you present with the symptoms above to check on the amount of thyroxine in your blood.
Your doctor is likely to prescribe medication known as a thiourea drug (Carbimazole, or Propylthiouracil) and this will reduce the production of thyroxine. Usually most people are able to come off the tablets after a year or two.
In certain cases a surgical procedure is recommended to remove part of the thyroid gland. This is known as a partial thyroidectomy and results in a drop in the amount of thyroxine being produced.
It is important to have blood tests done at regular intervals, as recommended by your doctor. This is to make sure that you do not develop an over active thyroid again.