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Factitious hyperthyroidism

  • Definition

    Factitious hyperthyroidism is higher than normal thyroid hormone levels that occur from taking too much thyroid hormone medication.


    Alternative Names

    Factitious thyrotoxicosis; thyrotoxicosis factitia; thyrotoxicosis medicamentosa


    Causes, incidence, and risk factors

    The thyroid gland produces the hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). In most cases of hyperthyroidism, the thyroid gland itself produces too much of these hormones.

    However, hyperthyroidism can also be caused by taking too much thyroid hormone medication for hypothyroidism. This is called factitious hyperthyroidism. When this occurs because the prescribed dose of hormone medication is too high, it is called iatrogenic, or "doctor-induced," hyperthyroidism.

    Factitious hyperthyroidism can also occur when a patient intentionally takes too much thyroid hormone, such as in people:

    • Who have psychiatric disorders such as Munchausen syndrome
    • Who are trying to lose weight
    • Who want to get compensation from the insurance company

    Children may take thyroid hormone pills accidentally.

    In rare cases, factitious hyperthyroidism is caused by eating meat contaminated with thyroid gland tissue.