Hyperthyroidism in Children

Hyperthyroidism in children is a highly treatable endocrine disorder. With appropriate medication and expert care from specialists at Rush University Children’s Hospital, your child can live a full life with this endocrine disorder.

    Remarkable Care for Kids

    • Experts in pediatric endocrinology: The pediatric endocrinology program at Rush University Children’s Hospital is focused on treating and managing hormonal conditions like hyperthyroidism in children.
    • Specialized surgical care for kids: If your child needs thyroid surgery, Rush University Children’s Hospital offers minimally invasive techniques for thyroid surgery, allowing your child to heal faster and feel less pain. Pediatric surgeons work closely with your child’s pediatric endocrinologist to create a personalized care plan for your child before, during and after surgery.
    • Care close to home: Pediatric endocrinologists from Rush University Children’s Hospital are available to see patients at our Rush campus in Chicago, Rush Oak Park Hospital and Rush Copley Medical Center in Aurora. 

    What is hyperthyroidism in children?

    If your child has hyperthyroidism, their thyroid — a small butterfly-shaped gland in the front of the neck — is overactive. This means it produces too much thyroid hormone, which can elevate your child’s heart rate, speed up their metabolism, or make them feel jittery.

    The most common type of hyperthyroidism in children is Grave’s disease — an autoimmune illness in which your child’s immune system attacks their thyroid and causes the over-production of thyroid hormone.

    Symptoms of hyperthyroidism in children

    Some signs of hyperthyroidism in children include the following:

    • Elevated heart rate
    • Swollen thyroid gland (goiter)
    • Persistent sweating
    • Trouble sleeping
    • Weight loss
    • Shaking
    • Heat intolerance
    • Feeling nervous or irritable

    Having these symptoms does not necessarily mean your child has hyperthyroidism. Other conditions have similar symptoms. Your child’s pediatrician or a pediatric endocrinologist, can help you determine the root of the problem and best course of action.

    Care for hyperthyroidism in children at Rush

    Diagnosis

    Talk to your child’s pediatrician if you are concerned about your child having symptoms of hyperthyroidism. The pediatrician will examine your child and may order a blood test that evaluates their thyroid hormone (TSH) levels and thyroid antibodies

    If your child’s thyroid hormone levels are too high, they will likely be diagnosed with hyperthyroidism and referred to a pediatric endocrinologist for further care and treatment.

    Treatment

    There are several options for hyperthyroidism treatment in children. Your child’s pediatric endocrinologist will likely recommend one or more of the following treatment plans:

    • Anti-thyroid medication: Most often, your child’s pediatric endocrinologist will prescribe anti-thyroid medication, an oral medication that your child will take daily. The medication typically helps relieve your child’s symptoms; your child will need to stay on the medication to ensure that symptoms don’t return.

    When your child is on these medications, their endocrinologist will regularly test their thyroid hormone levels. The medication dosage will likely change as they grow and their hormone levels fluctuate.

    • Radioactive iodine ablation: If your child’s thyroid hormone levels remain high after taking anti-thyroid medication for a certain length of time, your child’s endocrinologist might recommend radioactive iodine ablation. This is a permanent treatment, which destroys your child’s thyroid gland in order to slowdown the production of thyroid hormone.
    • Thyroid surgery: In rare cases, your child’s endocrinologist might recommend thyroid surgery. During this surgery, your child’s clinician either partially or entirely removes the thyroid gland.