17 Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism (& How It's Diagnosed)

Updated in October 2023

Symptoms of hyperthyroidism are nervousness, irritability, weight loss, increased sweating and heart palpitations. These occur due to an increase in body metabolism, which is usually regulated by hormones produced by the thyroid.

Hyperthyroidism is an abnormality in the thyroid associated with an increased production of the hormones T3 and T4. This is most often caused by Graves' disease, but can also arise due to thyroid inflammation, being in the postpartum phase or excessive use of levothyroxine. Learn more about the other symptoms of thyroid problems

If you notice hyperthyroidism symptoms, you should consult an endocrinologist for thyroid testing can be carried out to confirm hyperthyroidism and identify its underlying cause. This will help to guide the most appropriate treatment approach.

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Main symptoms

The main symptoms of hyperthyroidism are:

  1. Weight loss for no apparent reason
  2. Heart palpitations
  3. Tremors in the hands
  4. Heat intolerance and excessive sweating
  5. Feeling hot even in a cold environment
  6. Shortness of breath with exertion
  7. Anxiety, nervousness or agitation
  8. Difficulty sleeping and concentrating
  9. Muscle weakness
  10. Diarrhea or increased number of bowel movements
  11. Hair loss or fine, weak hair
  12. Decreased libido
  13. Irregular or absent menstruation
  14. Drooping or retracted eyelids
  15. Swelling of the legs, feet or hands
  16. Clubbing of the finger tips
  17. Thick, scaly patches of skin

Hyperthyroidism can have different causes, however it is most often related to Graves' disease and, in these cases, symptoms such as bulging eyes and swelling in the lower part of the throat can also be identified, for example. 

If you notice symptoms of hyperthyroidism, especially if you hold any risk factors for this disease, you should consult an endocrinologist for a thyroid evaluation, confirm hyperthyroidism and initiate the most appropriate treatment. 

Confirming a diagnosis

A hyperthyroidism diagnosis is confirmed by an endocrinologist through the evaluation of symptoms and the results of laboratory tests that measure thyroid hormones, such as TSH, total T3 and free T4. 

In addition, the doctor may order a thyrotropin receptor antibody (TRAb) measurement, Doppler ultrasound and, in some cases, a thyroid biopsy, to help identify the cause of hyperthyroidism.

Risk factors

Some factors increase the risk of having hyperthyroidism, such as:

  • Age, particularly if you are over 60 years old
  • Family history of thyroid disease
  • Personal history of thyroid problems
  • Selenium deficiency
  • Smoking habit
  • Use of medicines, such as amiodarone

In addition, a history of recent pregnancy, pernicious anemia or atrial fibrillation, or consuming a lot of foods rich in iodine can increase the risk of developing hyperthyroidism.