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Risk Factors for Hyperthyroidism

A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of getting a disease or condition.

It is possible to develop hyperthyroidism with or without the risk factors listed below. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater your likelihood of developing hyperthyroidism. If you have a number of risk factors, ask your doctor what you can do to reduce your risk.

Risk factors for hyperthyroidism include:

Medical Conditions

Medical conditions may increase your risk of hyperthyroidism:

  • Certain common viral infections
  • Pregnancy—A small percentage of women develop postpartum thyroiditis (hyperthyroidism followed by hypothyroidism).
  • A history of other autoimmune diseases

Age

Hyperthyroidism can happen at any age, but it is more common in people aged 60 and older. Graves disease is more likely to occur between ages 40-60 years old.

Gender

Women are more likely than men to develop hyperthyroidism.

Genetic Factors

A family history of Graves disease or other forms of hyperthyroidism increases your risk.

Ethnic Background

People of Japanese ancestry appear to be at greater risk of hyperthyroidism. This may be attributed to a diet high in saltwater fish, which are rich sources of iodine.

Other Factors

If you had a diet that was deficient in iodine, then start taking iodine supplements, this can increase your risk of hyperthyroidism.

Revision Information

  • American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists website. Available at: http://www.aace.com.

  • American Women’s Medical Association website. Available at: http://www.amwa-doc.org.

  • Graves' disease. Davidson College website. Available at: http://www.bio.davidson.edu/Courses/Immunology/Students/Spring2003/Breedlove/GravesDisease.html. Accessed December 9, 2009.

  • Kasper DL, Harrison TR. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 16th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2005.

  • Pearce EN. Diagnosis and management of thyrotoxicosis. Brit Med J. 2006;332:1369-1373.