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Ask the Expert: Hyperthyroidism

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Question: I’ve been experiencing anxiety, irritability, tremors and excessive perspiration. What might be the cause?

​You may have hyperthyroidism.

If that’s the case, the thyroid gland in the middle of your neck is producing too much thyroid hormone, raising your body’s metabolism.

​That can cause a variety of symptoms, including those you mentioned.

It’s important for you to see your physician for a simple blood test to measure your thyroid hormone and thyroid-stimulating hormone.

The most common cause of hyperthyroidism is Graves’ disease, which results from an interaction between a person’s genetic makeup and the immune system.

It can also be caused by one or more thyroid nodules or lumps in the thyroid gland, or even by a virus.

Other symptoms caused by hyperthyroidism include weakness, rapid or irregular heartbeats, fatigue, weight loss in spite of a normal or increased appetite, and frequent bowel movements.

It can also cause irregular menstrual periods in women, and erectile dysfunction in men.

Usually we can treat hyperthyroidism with medications or with radioactive iodine taken in liquid or capsule form.

Much less frequently, we must surgically remove the thyroid if the patient has severe hyperthyroidism or a very large goiter obstructing the airways and making it difficult to breathe.

In most cases, hyperthyroidism is quite treatable.

Marshfield Clinic provides Endocrinology​ in a number of our centers. Your primary care doctor can refer you to the appropriate specialty and location.