Hypothyroidism vs Hyperthyroidism: Understanding The Differences

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Knowing the difference between hypothyroidism vs hyperthyroidism can help patients better understand why a physician recommends a specific test for diagnosis. Having the same information can also give people a good idea about which disorder their symptoms may be pointing toward.

RELATED: 21 Thyroid Symptoms That Tell You Something’s Not Right

In this article:

  1. Understanding Hypothyroidism
  2. Hypothyroid Symptoms
  3. Conditions That Cause Hypothyroidism
  4. Possible Health Complications from Hypothyroidism
  5. Understanding Hyperthyroidism
  6. Hyperthyroid Symptoms
  7. Possible Health Complications from Hyperthyroidism
  8. Understanding the Difference between Hypothyroidism and Hyperthyroidism
  9. Different Treatment Paths
  10. Get Regular Check-Ups

Hypothyroidism vs Hyperthyroidism: What You Should Know

Understanding Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland stops producing enough hormones to support normal body functions. That’s why patients may find themselves feeling tired and sluggish all the time. Also, the air may feel cold on their skin even if it’s warm.

Hypothyroid Symptoms

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A man measures his waist line with a tape measure.

Some key differences between hypothyroid and hyperthyroid can be found in the symptoms they exhibit. If these symptoms are noticeable then there might be a shortage of hormones for your organs to work properly.

  • Having dry skin
  • Unexplained weight gain
  • A puffy face
  • Overall muscle weakness
  • Pain, swelling, and stiffness in various joints
  • Spikes in cholesterol levels
  • Feeling depressed
  • Constipation
  • The appearance of thinning hair
  • A slower heart rate
  • An enlarged thyroid gland (goiter)

It’s also worth noting that it’s possible for underlying health problems to trigger hypothyroidism.

Conditions That Cause Hypothyroidism

  • Autoimmune disease
  • Partial or full removal of the thyroid gland due to disease
  • Radiation treatments for cancer
  • Being born with a defective or missing thyroid gland
  • An inflamed thyroid gland due to a viral infection
  • Too much or too little iodine in the body
  • A damaged pituitary gland
  • Certain medications

The screening tests help doctors pinpoint the cause of these symptoms and put patients on a correct treatment path. Hypothyroidism can’t be cured.

Yet, most people’s thyroid hormone levels can be managed with medication and recommended diet changes.

Possible Health Complications from Hypothyroidism

Without treatment, patients can develop more serious health conditions like the following:

  • Issues with mental health
  • Problems with infertility
  • Heart issues
  • Possible birth defects

RELATED: 91 Low Thyroid Diet Recipes And Diet Tips | Hypothyroid Diet Plan

Understanding Hyperthyroidism

While hypothyroidism is caused by the thyroid gland not producing enough thyroid hormones, hyperthyroidism is triggered by the body creating an overabundance of them.

Patients with hyperthyroidism may find themselves with increased feelings of anxiousness. They may also see themselves losing weight despite having a healthy appetite and have difficulty sleeping through the night.

Hyperthyroid Symptoms

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A woman sits on her bed holding her stomach.
  • A rapid, pounding, or irregular heartbeat
  • Tremors in the extremities, usually the hands and fingers
  • Sensitivity to heat
  • Menstrual pattern changes
  • An increase in bowel movements
  • Thinning skin
  • Feelings of fatigue
  • Ongoing muscle weakness

Hyperthyroidism is often caused by Grave’s Disease, which is caused by antibodies found in the blood turning on the thyroid gland. They attack it, causing it to grow larger and produce more thyroid hormones.

Other causes of hyperthyroidism include the growth of lumps or nodules on the thyroid gland or a viral infection.

What Is Grave’s Disease? This is an autoimmune disease that causes the thyroid to produce too much hormone, resulting in hyperthyroidism.

Possible Health Complications from Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism can lead to serious health problems if left untreated such as:

  • Weak, brittle bones
  • Red and swollen skin
  • Eye issues
  • Heart problems

Understanding the Difference between Hypothyroidism and Hyperthyroidism

Hypothyroidism is caused by the thyroid gland not producing enough hormones. Meanwhile, hyperthyroidism causes it to produce too much.

Hypothyroidism often affects middle-aged women and up, though it can occur in people of any age. On the other hand, hyperthyroidism can be harder for doctors to diagnose. That’s because the symptoms of the disease can mimic so many other illnesses.

Different Treatment Paths

Doctors treat hypothyroidism by attempting to replace the hormones the thyroid can no longer produce. Doctors usually prescribe synthetic thyroxine pills. These pills help restore the body’s thyroid hormone levels to more normal levels.

On the other hand, the treatment for hyperthyroidism can vary. Doctors may recommend taking drugs that stop the thyroid from producing additional hormones. They can also treat a patient with radioactive iodine that fights back against the antibodies attacking the thyroid.

Surgery may become an option if medication fails to address the issue in a significant way as well.

One thing both diseases have in common is that they can be passed down genetically. So family members should be screened for possible issues if they start experiencing similar symptoms.

It’s important for patients to find a physician who has the skill and education needed for an accurate diagnosis and treatment of both conditions as well.

Get Regular Check-Ups

If you’re still unsure whether you have hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, then visit your doctor and get yourself checked.

It’s crucial that patients have a doctor check their thyroid hormone levels on a regular basis. That way, the physician can verify if the prescribed course of treatment is working and make any needed adjustments.

Staying vigilant about thyroid issues can allow patients to lead a normal, healthy lifestyle.

 

Want to know more about the difference between hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism? Check out this video from DoctorSecrets:

Know the difference between hyperthyroidism vs hypothyroidism symptoms. Then, you’ll be able to figure out the steps to manage your condition.

You can also start looking for natural ways to control your thyroid’s hormone production.

Organic supplements like the olive leaf extract can help improve your thyroid health. Discuss the possibility of using it with your doctor.

Do you have hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism? Don’t hesitate to share your journey with either of these conditions in the comments section below.

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