The thyroid is a gland situated behind the throat that does important work to regulate various functions inside the human body. Two separate types of conditions, hypothyroidism, and hyperthyroidism, both describe the dysfunction of the thyroid gland, but they have important differences that we will address here.
What Is Hypothyroidism?
The prefix hypo means low or below, so hypothyroidism means that your thyroid is not producing enough thyroid hormones to meet your body’s demand. In particular, hypothyroidism refers to a lack of adequate amounts of T3 and T4 hormones. These are the two main hormones that the thyroid produces to perform the thyroid’s metabolic, cardiovascular, and developmental activities. The symptoms of hypothyroidism that you might experience if you have the condition are:
• Weight gain
• Muscle weakness
• Sensitivity to cold
• Dry skin
What Is Hyperthyroidism?
Hyper, meaning too much or excessive, is the opposite side of the coin. Hyperthyroidism means that — as opposed to too little T3 and T4 in hypothyroidism –the thyroid produces too much of these hormones. The symptoms of hyperthyroidism are numerous but can include the following:
• Increased appetite
• Weight loss
• Heat sensitivity
• Rapid heartbeat
What Is the Difference Between Hyperthyroidism and Hypothyroidism?
As you see, the symptoms of hyperthyroidism are very much the polar opposite of those experienced in hypothyroidism (weight loss vs. weight gain, sensitivity to heat vs. sensitivity to cold). This is due to the alternative effects of too much vs. too little thyroid hormone. Consequently, hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism require two entirely different approaches to treatment – in the case of hypothyroidism, thyroid levels must increase, whereas they must decrease in the treatment of hyperthyroidism. Certain medications can treat each condition, although there is currently no known cure for either. Taking steps to balance your overall hormones, in addition to seeking professional care, can help restore thyroid function to normal.
Getting Thyroid Help
Only a doctor can make a medical diagnosis of hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. If you believe that you might have one of these conditions based on your symptoms, seek help from an accessible healthcare provider. You can now schedule an appointment with one of our medical professionals for a telehealth appointment. That means that you can visit the clinic virtually without a need to leave your home. Please reach out to learn more about how telehealth can improve your patient experience.