Overactivity of the thyroid gland, resulting in a rapid heartbeat and an increased rate of metabolism due to increased release of thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3).

Also Known As


  • Graves’ Disease (most common cause, 1 in 200 people in the US). An autoimmune reaction that causes the body to attack the thyroid gland
  • Overactive Thyroid Nodules.
  • Thyroiditis. Inflammation of the thyroid gland due to an infection (subacute), pregnancy (postpartum) or other condition (silent).
  • Excess Iodine
  • Excess Thyroid Medication


  • About 1.2% of people in the United States have hyperthyroidism.
  • More than 12% of people in the US will develop a thyroid condition in their lifetime.
  • Up to 60% of those with thyroid disease are unaware of their condition.

Risk Factors

  • Family history (especially of Graves’ Disease)
  • Gender (women are 5-8 times more likely than men to develop thyroid disease)
  • Personal history of chronic illness (especially type I diabetes, pernicious anemia, and primary adrenal insufficiency)


While there is no treatment or medication that can prevent hyperthyroidism, there are steps to take to reduce the risk of or slow down the progress of the disease.

  • Stop smoking
  • Decrease soy intake
  • Decrease radiation from X-rays by wearing appropriate neck coverings


The CDC recommends that all adults keep their vaccinations up to date. Childhood immunizations may wear off after time and need a “booster shot,” and you are at risk for other diseases as an adult.

All adults need:

  • Influenza vaccine (every year)
  • Tdap vaccine (if they did not receive it as an adolescent to protect against pertussis (whooping cough), and then a Td (tetanus, diphtheria) booster shot every 10 years.

Check with your doctor to see if there are other vaccines recommended for you.

COVID-19 and Hyperthyroidism

Thus far, there is no indication that patients with autoimmune thyroid disease (i.e. Graves’ disease) are at greater risk of getting COVID-19 or of being more severely affected should they acquire the COVID-19 infection.

Any patient with new fever, cough, or other typical symptoms of COVID-19 infection should seek medical attention immediately, regardless of methimazole use for hyperthyroidism.


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