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What Is The Difference Between Hypothyroidism And Hyperthyroidism?

By Dhwani Jerajani +2 more

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland situated in the neck, which is responsible for almost all metabolic processes of the body. Thyroid hormones dominate the functioning of the brain, muscles, heart, and other bodily systems. Though it is the same gland, an underactive or overactive thyroid can lead to various conditions that present with distinct symptoms.

The Difference Between Hypothyroidism and Hyperthyroidism

The overall hormonal output of the thyroid gland determines the difference between hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. In hyperthyroidism, the gland is deficient in secreting the thyroid hormone required for optimum functioning. In hyperthyroidism, the gland becomes overactive. The most common cause of hypothyroidism is Hashimoto’s disease, an autoimmune condition frequently affecting women than men, in which antibodies are produced against the thyroid hormone. Grave’s disease is the most common form of hyperthyroidism that leads to an enlarged thyroid called a goitre.

What Is the difference between Hypothyroidism and Hyperthyroidism? - PharmEasy

Symptoms of Hypothyroidism:

The underproduction of the thyroid hormone leads to hypothyroidism (increased TSH level). Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is the most common cause of hypothyroidism that destroys the gland by producing antibodies against the tissues. Thyroiditis may also be caused due to a viral infection. A diet deficient in iodine is another cause of hypothyroidism. Certain radiation drugs, medications for hyperthyroidism, thyroid surgery can also lead to hypothyroidism.

Symptoms of Hypothyroidism include:

  • Weight gain or difficulty in losing weight
  • Dry skin
  • Puffy face
  • Fatigue
  • Constipation
  • Increased sensitivity to cold
  • Depression
  • Decreased menstrual flow and change in the menstrual cycle
  • Hair loss
  • Swelling in the neck (goitre)

Read More: 7 Effects of Hypothyroidism

Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism

During hyperthyroidism, there is an over secretion of thyroid hormones that disrupt metabolic control of the body and reduce TSH levels below normal.

Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism include:

  • Increase in appetite
  • Loss of weight
  • Intolerance to heat
  • Sweating
  • Irregular menstrual cycles
  • Frequent bowel movements
  • Protrusion of eye
  • Sleep irregularities
  • Enlarged gland

Both these conditions need medical intervention from an endocrinologist or a thyroid specialist. Unfortunately, there is no cure for hypothyroidism and patients need to rely on external thyroid hormone supplements like Eltroxin, etc. Hyperthyroidism needs to be treated with medications or radiation therapy before it can lead to a complicated condition called a thyroid storm.

Ensure you follow the medications religiously, as the thyroid regulates numerous other glands of the body and can hamper their functioning too!

Treatment for Hypothyroidism

Standard treatment for hypothyroidism involves daily use of the synthetic thyroid hormone levothyroxine (medications Levo-T and Synthroid). This oral medication restores adequate hormone levels, reversing the signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism.

The medication gradually lowers cholesterol levels elevated by the disease and may reverse any weight gain. You’ll likely start to feel better soon after you start treatment.  

Treatment for Hyperthyroidism

Several treatments for hyperthyroidism exist. The best approach for you depends on your age, physical condition, the underlying cause of hyperthyroidism and personal preference. Some lines of treatment can be:

  • Radioactive iodine:  Taken orally, it is absorbed by your thyroid gland and causes it to shrink.
  • Anti-thyroid medications:  These medications reduce symptoms of hyperthyroidism by preventing your thyroid gland from producing excess amounts of hormones. Examples include propylthiouracil and methimazole.
  • Beta-blockers:  They are usually used to treat high blood pressure levels, however, they can ease symptoms of hyperthyroidism, such as tremors, rapid heart rate and palpitations.
  • Surgery:  In case the patient is pregnant, cannot tolerate anti-thyroid drugs, does not want to consume drugs or cannot have radioactive iodine therapy, the patient may be a candidate for thyroid surgery, although this is an option in only a few special cases.

Must Read: 8 Best Foods for Thyroid

Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.

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