Before studying how hyperthyroidism differs from hypothyroidism, it is imperative to understand where these conditions are derived from. Thyroid is a ductless, butterfly-shaped gland present near the base line of the neck that produces hormones which help in regulating the growth and development of body through metabolism. If due to any sort of changes or disorder occurs in the functioning of this gland or the hormone itself, one of two medical conditions is likely to result. These are termed as Hyperthyroidism and Hypothyroidism.
Read further to investigate the differences of the two ailments and their respective treatments.
Hyperthyroidism, as the name suggests, is concerned with the over activity of the thyroid gland. The over activity of the thyroid gland leads to overproduction of the thyroid hormone, Thyroxine, and since the hormones regulate your body metabolism in this condition, the metabolism is accelerated to a significant amount as well. Hence, the body starts breaking down fats and carbohydrates faster than the required rate and you in turn start experiencing a sudden weight loss with palpitations and irregular heartbeat in addition to extreme sweating, irritability and nervousness.
There are number of causes that lead to excess thyroxine such as Grave’s disease, Plummer’s disease, toxic adenoma and most commonly thyroiditis.
Hyperthyroidism can sometimes be difficult for doctors to diagnose since many symptoms are quite similar to the symptoms of other diseases but the most prominent symptoms, which you should keep a lookout for, include the following;
- Increased appetite- you feel hungry all the time due to fast acting metabolism.
- Rapid weight loss – even though the amount of food you eat and the amount of physical exercise you get remains the same, you still lose weight rapidly.
- Heart palpitations (pounding) and irregular or increased heartbeats (more than 100 per minute at rest position)
- Tremors- trembling of hands and mostly fingers
- Nervousness, sweating, irritability and anxiety
- Missed or late menstrual cycles in women
- Pain in neck or lower back experienced with rigidity or stiffness of muscles
- Increased sensitivity to the warmer temperature or increased body temperature itself.
- Odd sleeping patterns and brittle hair with thin skin is observed.
Thankfully, there are a number of treatment plans for hyperthyroidism, however selecting the best one depends upon the age and gender of the patient as well as severity of the disease. Here’s what is usually preferred by doctors to normalize the thyroid levels for someone suffering for hyperthyroidism.
- Radioactive Iodine – Taken orally, the iodine is absorbed by the gland which causes it to shrink and for the thyroid activity to slow down. You may need to take thyroxine to replace the depleted amount in the body but radioactive iodine has been generally termed safe.
- Anti-Thyroid Medication – These reduce the severity of hyperthyroidism, for some patients the effect is permanent but for others it might only be temporary.
- Beta Blockers – Normalize heart rate and reduce symptoms
- Surgery – opted in extreme cases
Hypothyroidism is under activity of the thyroid gland, which means that either the gland is producing fewer hormones or none at all. This condition usually sets in early 60’s and is most common in women. The diagnosis of hypothyroidism is usually easy and quick due to definitive tests.
the severity of the deficiency can be constituted upon the discomfort caused by the symptoms present. Barely noticeable symptoms such as fatigue and weight loss show early but are likely to worsen if the case is not treated. Major symptoms witnessed by someone who is suffering from hypothyroidism include;
- Constipation or irritable bowel
- Extremely dry skin
- Sensitivity to cold temperature
- Weak muscles that become stiff and ache
- Increased blood cholesterol level
- Stiff and painful joints
- Hair fall
- Weight gain
- Slower heart and pulse rate
- Irregular menstrual cycle with heavier blood flow
If hypothyroidism isn’t diagnosed and treated on time, the symptoms can aggravate leading to swelling of the gland; Goiter. Moreover, this may further lead to dementia and severe depression.
Hypothyroidism in Children and Teens
Although hypothyroidism is more common in adults, Infants, children and teens can also develop its symptoms especially if their mother suffers from the deficiency of the thyroid hormones.
Infants usually develop yellowing of skin, puffy eyes and skin with a protruded tongue. Children and teens have the same symptoms as adults but also develop severe constipation, lethargy and extremely poor muscle tone.
Treatment for hypothyroidism involves synthetic medication formulated from levothyroxine hormone. It is basically an oral medication that helps in reversing signs and symptoms of the disease to a considerable amount. Furthermore, the medication helps eradicate fatigue in matter of few weeks and also reduces blood cholesterol level. The intake of the medication may proceed for a lifetime, but it is very important to get regular check-ups as the required dosage may vary with time as per the patient’s thyroid test reports.
In addition to regulating their thyroid hormone by taking appropriate medications on a regular basis, individuals suffering from hypothyroidism should strive to up their protein and fat intake whilst avoiding processed flour, sugar and caffeine.