Hyperthyroidism Facts and Statistics: What You Need to Know

Approximately 1 in 100 Americans over the age of 12 have hyperthyroidism. Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland makes too much thyroid hormone.

When there is more thyroid hormone than the body needs, the functions of the major organs and systems are sped up. It can affect heart rate and metabolism.

This article will discuss important facts and statistics you should know about hyperthyroidism, including how common it is, who is more likely to be affected, mortality, and early detection.

 Person with goiter neck bulge, a symptom of thyroid dysfunction, including hyperthyroidism

ablokhin / Getty Images

Hyperthyroidism Overview

Hyperthyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland (located in the neck) makes more thyroid hormone than the body needs. Hormones are chemical messengers. The hormones produced by the thyroid gland guide many of the body’s functions.

Too much thyroid hormone can cause a variety of symptoms, including:

  • Heart palpitations
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Heat intolerance
  • Sweating
  • Anxiety
  • Poor sleep
  • Increased heart rate
  • Tremor (involuntary muscle movement) in the hands or other extremities
  • Excessive thirst
  • Enlargement of the thyroid gland in the neck (goiter)

How Common Is Hyperthyroidism?

One in 100 people in the United States will develop hyperthyroidism. Hyperthyroidism is one of the most common endocrine (hormonal) disorders, after diabetes and osteoporosis (progressive bone thinning).

Hyperthyroidism by Ethnicity

Research into how hyperthyroidism affects individual ethnicities is limited, however, it has been established that White people are more often diagnosed with thyroid conditions than any other race.

Although White women are more prone to being diagnosed with hyperthyroidism overall. Graves’ disease, the most common cause of hyperthyroidism, is most common among Black Americans and people of Asian/Pacific Islander descent.

Hyperthyroidism by Age and Gender

Hyperthyroidism can occur at any age, including in children. Graves’ disease, the most common cause of hyperthyroidism, typically occurs between the ages of 20 and 50.

Women are 5 to 10 times more likely to be diagnosed with hyperthyroidism than men.

Causes of Hyperthyroidism and Risk Factors

The most common cause of hyperthyroidism in developed countries is Graves’ disease. Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks the thyroid, resulting in the overproduction of thyroid hormone. As with hyperthyroidism, Graves' disease occurs 5 to 10 times more frequently in women than men.

Other causes of hyperthyroidism include:

People who have a family history of thyroid disease may be more at risk for developing hyperthyroidism. Other risk factors include:

What Are the Mortality Rates for Hyperthyroidism?

Hyperthyroidism’s overall effect on mortality is unclear. Though hyperthyroidism itself may not raise the risk of mortality from the general population, it is associated with an increased risk of all-cause mortality (death from all causes) and cardiovascular mortality (death from diseases of the heart and blood vessels). This means that the mortality rate from other causes increases if a person has hyperthyroidism.

Having hyperthyroidism increases the risk of developing heart failure (the heart does not pump enough blood for the body's needs), which could lead to death.

Screening and Early Detection

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) does not recommend screening for thyroid dysfunction in adults who have no symptoms and are not pregnant. A healthcare provider may test for hyperthyroidism if they believe the person is at risk or has symptoms that point toward it.

To diagnose hyperthyroidism a healthcare provider will take a full medical history, conduct a physical exam, and may order a variety of blood and imaging tests.

Tests for hyperthyroidism include blood tests to look into various thyroid hormone levels, such as triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4), thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), and thyroid antibodies.

Imaging tests such as ultrasound can look at the thyroid gland and see nodules or other abnormalities. A thyroid scan or a radioactive iodine uptake test uses ingested or injected radioactive iodine to test the function of the thyroid.

Early diagnosis and screening for hyperthyroidism can help healthcare providers treat the disease effectively. Treatment for hyperthyroidism includes antithyroid drugs, radioactive ablation (removal of tissue), and surgery to remove all or part of the overactive thyroid.


Hyperthyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland produces more thyroid hormone than the body needs. causing a variety of symptoms from increased heart rate to weight loss.

Graves' disease is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism. A family history of the disease, diagnosis of other health problems such as diabetes, and overconsumption of iodine-containing foods are also risk factors for hyperthyroidism.

Women are typically more affected by the disease than are men. Treatments are available for hyperthyroidism. While the direct mortality rate is low, the risk of death from other causes is higher in people with hyperthyroidism than the general public.

12 Sources
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