There is a link between hyperthyroidism and acid reflux. If a person’s hyperthyroidism is causing acid reflux, treating the thyroid condition can resolve the symptoms of both.

One of the main causes of hyperthyroidism, Graves’ disease, can affect organs such as the eyes and heart. In some cases, it can also affect the gastrointestinal tract and cause acid reflux.

Treatment for hyperthyroidism may involve a beta-blocker, such as propranolol (Inderal), in combination with anti-thyroid medication, such as methimazole (Northyx or Tapazole). Other treatment options may include radioactive iodine or thyroid gland surgery.

Read on to learn about hyperthyroidism and acid reflux, the link between the two, treatment options, and more.

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Several factors may explain the link between these two conditions. One idea is that excess thyroid hormones may affect the muscles involved in eating.


Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland becomes overactive and produces higher than typical levels of thyroid hormones. This condition affects approximately 1% of the United States population.

Although it has several causes, the most common is an autoimmune condition called Graves’ disease. This occurs when the immune system attacks the thyroid gland, causing it to enlarge and produce excess levels of thyroid hormone.

Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:

  • feeling too hot
  • rapid heartbeat
  • weight loss
  • increased sweating
  • tremble in the hands
  • more frequent bowel movements
  • irritability

Learn more about hyperthyroidism.

Acid reflux

The medical term for acid reflux is gastrointestinal reflux (GER). It occurs when contents from the stomach flow backward into the esophagus, or food pipe.

When acid reflux repeatedly occurs over an extended period, the condition is called gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD), which affects about 20% of people in the U.S.

Symptoms of GER and GERD include:

  • regurgitation of food from the stomach into the esophagus and throat
  • heartburn, a painful feeling in the middle of the chest behind the breastbone that rises toward the throat
  • chest pain
  • difficult or painful swallowing
  • nausea

Learn more about acid reflux.

Treatment for hyperthyroidism focuses on reducing the amount of thyroid hormone in the bloodstream. There are four main ways to do this:

  • Beta-blockers: These medications control certain hyperthyroidism symptoms, such as a racing heart, trembling, and anxiety.
  • Radioactive iodine: A person may take these to reduce the amount of hormone that the thyroid produces.
  • Anti-thyroid medications: These help reduce the amount of thyroid hormone in the bloodstream.
  • Surgery: If necessary, a doctor can remove the thyroid via a thyroidectomy. This will require a person to take synthetic thyroid hormones for the rest of their life.

If hyperthyroidism is the underlying cause of someone’s acid reflux, hyperthyroidism treatment may manage the symptoms of both. However, if not, they may need separate treatment for the acid reflux.

Antacids can help treat occasional acid reflux. If a person’s acid reflux is chronic, they can take prescription drugs such as proton pump inhibitors. In severe cases, individuals may need surgery to manage either acid reflux or treat complications such as damage to the esophagus and esophageal strictures.

There is a connection between hyperthyroidism and acid reflux.

Graves’ disease can present in symptoms involving multiple organs, such as the heart, brain, and eyes. While it rarely happens, it can also affect the gastrointestinal tract and cause symptoms such as:

  • heartburn
  • loose stools
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • trouble swallowing

Several factors may underlie the effects of Graves’ disease on the gastrointestinal tract. One possible cause is the enlargement of the thyroid gland at the base of the neck.

Excess thyroid hormones may cause dysfunction of the neck’s bulbar muscles, which have a role in swallowing and chewing. Additionally, high thyroid hormone levels may adversely affect the esophagus.

Both hyperthyroidism and acid reflux can cause complications without treatment. If individuals experience persisting symptoms of either condition, they can contact a doctor.

Additionally, if they are taking medication for either condition and find it is no longer effective, they need to consult a doctor.

There is a link between hyperthyroidism and acid reflux. Some factors involve the effects of Graves’ disease and the effects of excess thyroid hormone on the esophagus and neck muscles.

Treatment may include a beta-blocker with anti-thyroid medication, while alternative approaches include radioactive iodine and surgery. If these do not resolve both conditions, a person may need separate treatment for acid reflux.