The Thyroid gland is that spongey little gland at the base of your throat that looks like a little bow tie. HYPOthyroidsim is what happens when the gland is underactive, and HYPERthyroidism occurs when the gland is overactive.
The Most Noticeable Differences Between Hypothyroidism and Hyperthyroidism
Hypo has noticeable symptoms like low energy levels, a slowed metabolism, and weight gain. Sadly, this condition is often mistaken for a slew of other things, from an iron deficiency to depression. Hypothyroidism is more common than hyper, though both conditions are fairly common.
Hyper often leaves people with a little too much energy, which may also manifest as feelings of anxiousness and traits commonly associated with elevated amounts of anxiety. Symptoms do not present themselves as if you had just drunk a Red Bull. Quite often, the symptoms creep up slowly and often go unnoticed.
This condition is most often triggered by genetics. Women are most likely to suffer from the condition. Sometimes, your immune system starts to fight your thyroid, making it swell up and therefore less effective at producing hormones. To avoid misdiagnosis, a TSH test is administered.
Hypo is often caused by genetics but may also be caused by damage to the thyroid or through thyroid removal. Radiation due to cancer treatment is often a cause, as are certain medications, auto-immune disorders, and a low-iodine diet. Hypothyroidism symptoms include:
- Brittle nails
- Goitre/neck swelling
- Dry skin
- Hair loss and/or dry hair
- Sensitivity to cold
- Slow heart rate
- Trouble losing weight
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Irregular period
- Muscle cramps
- Unexplained weight gain
As you can see, several of these symptoms can exist on their own, and can indicate several other conditions, which is why getting tested is the only reliable method for diagnosing the condition.
This condition is also caused by genetics, and by a swollen thyroid and/or by thyroid nodules. Graves disease is a common reason for this disorder. Graves disease is a fairly common auto-immune condition where the T4 and T3 hormones are stimulated. If you would like to learn more about the T3 and T4 hormones, check out this website for a complete guide on the T3 and T4 hormones. Hypothyroidism symptoms include:
- A racing heartbeat
- Itchy red skin
- Feeling anxious
- Overly frequent bowel movements
- Unexplained weight loss
- Sweating spells
- Shakiness and/or tremors
- Frequently feeling hot
- Fine hair or hair falling out
Left untreated, this condition can lead to bone loss, heart conditions, and even a stroke. Just like hypothyroidism, unless there is a treatable underlying cause, then quite often there is no cure for hyperthyroidism, there are only treatments to manage the condition.
Thyroid Conditions in Children
A big difference between Hypo and Hyper is how often children and teens get the condition. Contrary to what we see in adults, the number of children/teens getting Hyper is very low. The chances of a child getting Hyperthyroidism is 1 in 5000, whereas the chances of an adult getting it are 4 in 400, where three of those four would be women. Sadly, Hyper can have a devastating effect on a child’s life as it affects his or her development, especially if left untreated, and can be life threatening if left unchecked.
Hypothyroidism is more common with around 1 in 1500 children getting it, and in most cases is due to a developmental problem rather than something specifically genetic or incidental (cancer treatment, damage, etc). Hypo is less damaging and easier to spot in infants, but left unchecked it can seriously harm a child’s long-term health.
Hypo in babies often comes with jaundice and/or things like a large protruding tongue, hoarse crying, and an umbilical hernia. Later, if left unchecked, symptoms like excessive sleepiness occur, as does poor muscle tone and constipation. If it continues to go unchecked, the child may become retarded both mentally and physically.
Hypo in teens has the same symptoms as it does for adults, but may also include poor growth and shortness, delayed development of permanent teeth, delayed puberty, and poor mental development.
Are There Really No Cures?
Something that both conditions have in common is that they are often incurable. In many cases, you have to take medication for the rest of your life, usually around three times per day. However, just because you have Hyperthyroidism or Hypothyroidism, it doesn’t mean all hope is loss.
Sometimes the conditions arise because of what amount to treatable reasons. For example, damage to the thyroid can sometimes be healed, and the removal of nodules often goes a long way to fixing the condition in some cases. Your current medication may be causing the problem, as may several other environmental factors like an iodine rich diet.
Can I Manipulate My Thyroid to Help Me Lose Weight?
A common misconception is that you can increase the amount of iodine in your diet to help speed up your metabolism and help you lose weight. However, this is not the case at all. Such an approach would require you to take a lot of iodine regularly through the day and night, and such abuse may cause permanent health problems. If you really want to improve your thyroid’s function, then getting a good night’s sleep after a day of moderate exercise will do far more than any iodine supplement ever could in helping you lose weight.