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Having an overactive thyroid, where it makes too much hormone for the body, is called hyperthyroidism or thyrotoxicosis.

It makes the body and the mind work too quickly, and that can make you lose weight, give you heart palpitations or a fast heartbeat; sweating and heat intolerance; tiredness and weak muscles; nervousness; irritability and shakiness; mood swings or aggressive behaviour; looseness of the bowels; thirst; itchiness and sometimes an enlarged thyroid gland.

To see if you have an overactive thyroid the doctor will examine you and give you blood tests. If you do have the condition you will probably be given ‘antithyroid drugs’ (usually carbimazole) to help control it, or sometimes the doctor might want to remove part or all of the thyroid gland with surgery or destroy it with radioiodine.

When you first start treatment with antithyroid drugs, blood tests are usually carried out every 2 – 6 months. Later it will be just one or two times a year. For some people the antithyroid drugs won’t be a long term solution and they will need to have either thyroid surgery or radioiodine. As a follow up most of these patients would need to take a levothyroxine tablet (thyroid hormone replacement) each day and go for regular blood tests to make sure they have the correct dose. These BSL health clips were made by SignHealth with help and information from The British Thyroid Foundation. If you need more information or advice, visit www.btf-thyroid.org