Effects of Hyperthyroidism on Digestive System

The thyroid gland, situated in the front of our neck, produces hormones that regulate the body’s metabolism. When too much of this hormone gets produced, the condition is termed as hyperthyroidism. This excess hormone production speeds up many systems of the body. Hyperthyroidism creates a havoc on all of the body functions as the body’s normal functioning is disrupted due to the rapid changes. Some of the prominent effects of over thyroid formation are seen in the emotional mood swings. Apart from this, on the physical front, hyperthyroidism can severely hamper the digestive system. If untreated, it can lead to severe medical complications.

Some pronounced effects of hyperthyroidism on the digestive system are


This is highly common in patients suffering from hyperthyroidism. In diarrhoea, the bowel movements increase with loose, watery stools. Excess thyroid hormones attack the cells that line the intestines resulting in excessive secretion of fluids and thus invite the onset of diarrhoea.

Increased appetite

The fast-paced digestion of the food consumed is bound to make the patient feel more hungry than usual. Thus, his appetite is unnecessarily increased and this ushers in a new set of problems. Hyperthyroidism alters the metabolism as well as creates a faulty digestion process that gives a feel to the patient that he needs to consume much more than required.

Graves’ Disease

Graves’ disease, which is also called as toxic diffuse goitre, is a very common result of hyperthyroidism. In normal conditions, a strong immune system defends the body by attacking the harmful bacteria and other foreign substances. But in Grave’s disease, the immune system assaults body’s own organs and cells. Apart from attacking other organs, Graves’ disease attacks the digestive tract and results in stomach irritation.


The discomfort that is observed in the upper abdomen is dyspepsia. It is often triggered by over-eating. When a person’s intake increases significantly, stomach juices burp up and there is regurgitation due to gastroesophageal reflux disease. Again, irritable bowels do add up to the existing distress. Again, some amount of heartburn, bloating and nausea are part of dyspepsia.

Fat Malabsorption

The increased appetite in the patient results in bigger consumption of fat in the diet. Fat plays a bad role of speeding up the intestinal contractions. The entire speeding up of the process does not give the fat enough time to mix with the digestive enzymes. This leads to reduced absorption of fat in the body and increased level of fat in the stool.


The reasons for indigestion are many. But when a person suffers from hyperthyroidism, the effects are clear. The process of digestion takes place at the point where the small intestine and the stomach meet. Thyroid over functioning causes abnormal motility i.e. the relaxing and squeezing of stomach muscles when it receives, digests and pushes the food in the small intestine and thus digestion problems creep in.

           Hyperthyroidism must be treated as soon as it gets noticed. In some cases, though it may not be completely prevented, it is surely treatable and is rarely fatal.

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