What Causes Hyperthyroidism?

To successfully treat and prevent recurrence of hyperthyroidism we need to understand and — if possible — remove the underlying causes and risk factors.  We need to ask: "What else is going on inside the body that might allow hyperthyroidism to develop?"

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Accurate diagnosis of the factors behind hyperthyroidism consists of three steps:

Step 1: List the Possible Causative Factors

Identify all disease conditions, lifestyle choices and environmental risk factors that can lead to hyperthyroidism.  Here are four possibilities:
  • Iodine Need
  • Cigarette Smoke Damage
  • Adrenal Fatigue
  • Copper Deficiency

Step 2: Build a Symptom Checklist

Identify all possible symptoms and risk factors of each possible cause, and check the ones that apply:
history of adolescent acne
frequent meal-related bloating
low energy/stamina
recent heavy tobacco smoking
fast iodine patch disappearance
history of adult allergies
history of hypothyroidism
chronic thyroiditis
adrenal insufficiency
sugar/sweet craving
male characteristics
dizziness when standing up
... and more than 50 others

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of hyperthyroidism:
Cause Probability Status
Cigarette Smoke Damage 99% Confirm
Iodine Need 17% Unlikely
Copper Deficiency 1% Ruled out
Adrenal Fatigue 0% Ruled out
* This is a simple example to illustrate the process

Arriving at a Correct Diagnosis

The Analyst™ is our online diagnosis tool that learns all about you through a straightforward process of multi-level questioning, providing diagnosis at the end.

In the Glandular Symptoms section of the questionnaire, The Analyst™ will ask the following question about hyperthyroidism:
Possible responses:
→ Never had it / don't know
→ Probably had it/minor episode(s) now resolved
→ Major episode(s) now resolved
→ Current minor problem
→ Current significant problem
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate either history of hyperthyroidism or hyperthyroidism, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as:
Iodine Requirement

Hyperthyroidism may occur, particularly in elderly people, due to long term slight iodine deficiency as this may result in additional nodules on the thyroid.

Cigarette Smoke Damage

A study of 132 pairs of twins (264 subjects) showed that smoking can have negative effects on the endocrine system, causing a 3- to 5-fold increase in the risk of all types of thyroid disease.  The association was most pronounced in autoimmune disorders (Graves' disease and autoimmune thyroiditis), although there was still a strong association for non-autoimmune thyroid disorders.

Underlying hyperthyroidism often returns after antithyroid drugs are discontinued.  For this reason, patients are often advised to consider a treatment that permanently prevents the thyroid gland from producing too much thyroid hormone.

... and also rule out issues such as:
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