Welcome to the OutUK series looking at gay men and their health brought to you in association with the NHS website.
Each week we'll tackle a different topic in our A to Z of Gay Health. We'll have features and advice on everything from relationships, sexual health, mental and physical conditions and how to stay fit. You can follow any of links provided below for more information direct from the NHS website, or view any of our Previous A to Z Features.
You should also know that OutUK has produced a special report about: Coronavirus Covid-19.

[Previous Feature]

This Week - O : Overactive Thyroid (Hyperthyroidism)

An overactive thyroid, also known as hyperthyroidism or thyrotoxicosis, is where the thyroid gland produces too much of the thyroid hormones.

The thyroid is a small butterfly-shaped gland in the neck, just in front of the windpipe (trachea). It produces hormones that affect things such as your heart rate and body temperature.

Having too much of these hormones can cause unpleasant and potentially serious problems that may need treatment.

An overactive thyroid can affect anyone, but it's about 10 times more common in women than men, and typically happens between 20 and 40 years of age.

Symptoms of an overactive thyroid

An overactive thyroid can cause a wide range of symptoms, including:

Find out more about the symptoms of an overactive thyroid

When to see a GP

See a GP if you have symptoms of an overactive thyroid.

They'll ask about your symptoms and if they think you might have a thyroid problem, they can arrange for a blood test to check how well your thyroid is working.

If the blood test shows that you have an overactive thyroid, you may be referred for further tests to identify the cause.

Find out more about how an overactive thyroid is diagnosed

Treatments for an overactive thyroid

An overactive thyroid is usually treatable.

The main treatments are:

  • medicine that stops your thyroid producing too much of the thyroid hormones
  • radioiodine treatment - where a type of radiotherapy is used to destroy cells in the thyroid, reducing its ability to produce thyroid hormones
  • surgery to remove some or all of your thyroid, so that it no longer produces thyroid hormones

Each of these treatments has benefits and drawbacks. You'll usually see a specialist in hormonal conditions (endocrinologist) to discuss which treatment is best for you.

Find out more about how an overactive thyroid is treated

Causes of an overactive thyroid

There are several reasons why your thyroid can become overactive.

These include:

  • Graves' disease - an autoimmune condition where the immune system produces antibodies that cause the thyroid to produce too much thyroid hormone (about 4 in every 5 people with an overactive thyroid have Graves' disease)
  • lumps (nodules) on the thyroid - this extra thyroid tissue can produce thyroid hormones, causing your levels to be too high
  • some medicines such as amiodarone, which can be used to treat an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia)

Find out more about the causes of an overactive thyroid

Further problems

An overactive thyroid can sometimes lead to further problems, particularly if it's not treated or well controlled.

These include:

Find out more about the complications of an overactive thyroid

Help and support



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We'll have more information and advice next week on another topic in our A to Z of Gay Health. We have covered many subjects in this series and you can catch up with all of our Previous A to Z Features.

If you want to find out more about this week's subject you can visit the Original article on the NHS website. If you are worried by any aspect of your health make sure you go and see your doctor or book an appointment at your local clinic.

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