The thyroid gland is a butterfly shaped organ located at the front of your neck. There are different types of thyroid disease and problems so in this post, we'll break down the basic difference between hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism and some of the ways this thyroid condition can occur and some of the signs and symptoms. The easiest way to remember this is that "hypo" is a prefix meaning "under" and that "hyper" is a prefix meaning "over".
Hypothyroidism is the underproduction of thyroid hormones, or having lower than normal levels of thyroid hormone. This condition can be occur in a few ways including:
- Hashimoto's thyroiditis: an autoimmune condition where the body attacks the thyroid tissue, resulting in lower levels of thyroid hormone. Hashimoto's is considered the most common cause of hypothyroidism.
- A partial or total thyroidectomy: For instance in the treatment of thyroid cancer or Graves' disease
- Congenital hypothyroidism: hypothyroidism present at birth
- Subclinical/ Borderline Hypothyroidism: this diagnosis may be given to someone who falls just under the normal range of thyroid hormone levels.
Hypothyroidism symptoms can impact a range of functions across the body:
- Feeling tired, fatigued
- Weight gain (although no lifestyle changes)
- Mood disorders including depression and anxiety
- Feeling slow in movements, speech and thoughts (brain fog)
- Muscle aches, pains and weakness/ cramps
- Low appetite
- Dry skin, brittle nails, thinning hair
- Reduced libido/sex drive
- Sensitivity to cold/heat
Hyperthyroidism is the overproduction of thyroid hormones, or having higher than normal levels of thyroid hormone. This condition can occur in a few different ways including:
- Graves' disease: an autoimmune condition causing an increased production of thyroid hormones
- Subacute thyroiditis: an inflammatory disease of the thyroid that is acute
- Toxic multinodular goitres (Plummer’s disease)
- Toxic adenomas (benign)
- Pituitary gland malfunction: caused by pituitary gland producing too much TSH
Hyperthyroidism symptoms can include some of the symptoms for hypothyroidism like muscle weakness, mood swings and sensitivity to heat, but also includes:
- Heart palpitations/ rapid heart rate
- Hot flashes
- Insomnia/ difficulty sleeping
- Weight loss (although no lifestyle changes)
- Increased appetite
- Swings in energy levels (high energy spurts combined with fatigue)
- Irregular periods
The best way to identify whether you might have a thyroid condition is to get a full thyroid blood test done to check your thyroid function.
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