About 27 million Americans are estimated to have an illness that’s related to the thyroid gland. Majority of the sufferers are women and yet there are still many who are ill-diagnosed. There’s still a lot to understand about the diseases to help address thyroid dysfunction. The thyroid gland is required by all the cells in the body for us to feel energetic and healthy. But the thyroid hormone can become either underactive or overactive.
Underactive vs. Overactive Thyroid
When your thyroid gland is underactive, it means your hormone levels are low and you have hypothyroidism. When it is overactive and your hormone levels are high, you have hyperthyroidism. There are also different causes. In hypothyroidism, it is often caused by Hashimoto’s disease, while hyperthyroidism is mostly due to Grave’s disease. These are both autoimmune diseases, which mean that the immune system attacks the body by mistake and it leads to thyroid dysfunction.
Differences in Symptoms
Both hypo- and hyperthyroidism have unique effects to the body. Here are the differences:
- Hypothyroidism causes weight gain, while hyperthyroidism causes weight loss.
- Those with hypothyroidism are intolerant to cold, while hyperthyroidism leads to heat intolerance.
- Hypothyroidism results to slow heart rate, while hyperthyroidism causes fast heart rate.
- Hypothyroidism can cause either hypertension or hypotension, but those with hyperthyroidism often have elevated blood pressure.
- Infertility, erectile dysfunction, and loss of sexual appetite are both signs of hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. But in the former, spontaneous abortion often results.
- Hypothyroidism can lead to fatigue, sleepiness, and low energy levels. Hyperthyroidism also causes fatigue, but one cannot sit still or is hyperactive.
- Hypothyroidism causes constipation, while diarrhea is a sign of hyperthyroidism.
- People with hypothyroidism often have difficulty in concentrating, have poor memory, and may suffer from depression. Hyperthyroidism can cause nervousness, anxiety, and irritability.
- How fluid accumulates in the body is also different. People with hypothyroidism can have swollen eyelids, hands, and legs. They may also have fluid in their lungs and heart. Abdominal swelling as well as having a puffy face is a symptom of hypothyroidism, too. Ankles, feet, and toes can become swollen if you have hyperthyroidism.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for either thyroid disorder. Additionally, the treatment given to the patient will depend on the person’s condition, along with the cause of the disorder. However, hypothyroidism can often be managed with synthetic thyroid hormone or through iodine supplementation. Meanwhile, hyperthyroidism can be treated with an antithyroid medication that slows down the overactive gland. While there is no strong evidence linking home remedies to thyroid dysfunction, coconut oil, apple cider, and fish oils are recommended for people with hypothyroidism. Hyperthyroidism sufferers may use soy products, lemon balm, and broccoli to correct their thyroid problem.