Keeping your thyroid healthy
Your thyroid produces important hormones that regulate how your body functions. We’re here to keep it working properly, so you can feel your best.
Your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located at the front of your throat that produces important hormones. These hormones travel all over your body to regulate functions including your heart rate, breathing, muscle strength, body temperature, body weight, cholesterol and your central nervous system.
Thyroid hormone levels are controlled by a feedback loop between the thyroid and two glands in your brain called the hypothalamus and the pituitary. The hypothalamus and pituitary monitor levels of thyroid hormones in the blood and tell your thyroid to make more or less of them. The two key thyroid hormones that regulate the way your body uses energy are:
- Thyroxine, also known as T4
- Triiodothyronine, known as T3
What are the symptoms of hyperthyroid?
An overactive thyroid produces more thyroid hormones than the body needs and can cause hyperthyroidism. Common symptoms of hyperthyroid may include:
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
- Anxiety, nervousness and irritability
- Bowel changes and loose stools
- Feeling hot and sweating
- Problems falling asleep
- Unintentional weight loss
Risk factors for hyperthyroid
The most common cause of hyperthyroidism is an autoimmune disease called Grave’s disease. Grave’s disease causes the immune system to mistakenly attack a healthy thyroid gland, producing antibodies that bind to the surface of thyroid cells. These cells are then stimulated and overproduce thyroid hormones.
There are certain behaviors, genetics and risk factors that can increase your chances of developing hyperthyroidism, including:
- Family history: If you have a family member who has been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, Grave’s disease or another thyroid condition, you have a greater risk for developing hyperthyroidism.
- Being female: Women are more likely to develop hyperthyroidism.
- Age: The risk of developing hyperthyroidism increases with age, most frequently affecting those age 60 and older.
- Other risk factors: Other risk factors that can increase the risk of developing hyperthyroidism include:
- Prior thyroid surgery
- Being of Japanese descent
- A low-iodine diet
- History of an autoimmune condition or autoimmune conditions
Our endocrinology specialists are experienced in diagnosing and treating all kinds of thyroid conditions.
Some of the diagnostic tests your doctor may perform to test for hyperthyroidism include:
- Blood tests: Your doctor may start by ordering bloodwork to evaluate your thyroid function and help diagnose any underlying thyroid conditions. A typical thyroid panel can include measuring your levels of TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone), free T3 and T4, reverse T3 and T4, and thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPO).
- Radioactive iodine uptake test: This test takes place over the course of 24 hours. On the first day, you’ll be given a pill that contains a small dose of radioactive iodine. Twenty-four hours later, you’ll take another pill. Your doctor will then measure the amount of iodine that goes into your thyroid using a special device that shows whether your thyroid is working properly.
- Thyroid ultrasound: An ultrasound takes an image of your thyroid and throat area using sound waves. Your healthcare provider will review these images to look for any concerning issues.
- Imaging tests: Diagnostic imaging tests, such MRIs, CT scans and PET scans, are used to produce detailed pictures of your thyroid gland and throat area.
Treating hyperthyroidismOur team of thyroid specialists is experienced in diagnosing and treating all kinds of thyroid conditions, including hyperthyroidism.
Depending on the type and severity of your condition, one or more of the following treatments may be recommended.
You can make several lifestyle changes that your doctor may suggest to help manage your symptoms. These may include:
- Increasing sleep
- Change in diet
- Reducing stress
- Emotional support
Thyroid care at Geisinger
Our endocrinology team is here to provide you with compassionate care and the most advanced available. We offer:
- The knowledge you need – Your care team is powered by endocrinologists, surgeons, doctors and specialists with years of training and experience. Their expertise has been honed by treating many people with thyroid issues every year. And their focus is on delivering the care best suited to your needs.
- Care designed for you, where you live – With locations throughout northeast, central and south-central Pennsylvania, our experienced team provides consultations and comprehensive care. We offer leading-edge treatment options and tailored-to-you care, backed by the expertise and innovation of a nationally recognized health system.
- Comprehensive specialty care – Our endocrine specialists are dedicated to offering innovative treatment options and personalized care in convenient locations, so you don’t have to travel far. We’ll work with you to develop a personalized care plan based on your individual needs.
- Genetic testing and counseling programs – Special research programs such as MyCode® are only available at Geisinger. Participating in MyCode allows you to contribute to genetic research. By participating, some may receive information about their own genetic risks. Learn about MyCode.