doctor holding a thyroid model
March 30, 2023

Thyroid disease affects approximately 20 million people each year in the United States alone. There are many people who have thyroid disease that don’t even know, which is why it’s important to have your thyroid gland checked regularly. There are two common types of thyroid disorders. While they sound similar and have some of the same symptoms, they are actually very different. Let’s take a look at hypothyroidism vs. hyperthyroidism:

Basic Facts About the Thyroid

Before we dive into the different types of thyroid disease, it’s important to understand the basic functions of the thyroid gland. Your thyroid can be found in the front part of your neck and it is a part of the endocrine system. The main function of the thyroid gland is to produce and distribute hormones throughout the body that perform a variety of functions, with the biggest being metabolism.

Differences in the Disorders

woman holding the front of her neck from thyroid pain

Now that you know what your thyroid gland does, let’s look at a breakdown of hypothyroidism vs. hyperthyroidism. Hypothyroidism is when your thyroid is underactive, which means it is not producing enough of the thyroid hormone. On the contrary, hyperthyroidism is when it is producing too much of the hormone. Although the two diseases are vastly different, it can be hard to tell the two apart solely by looking at the symptoms, which is why it’s crucial to get routine checks done.

Symptoms to Look For

For those that suffer from a thyroid disorder, it’s important to catch it as early as possible. The first step to doing so is being able to spot the symptoms. Some of the common things to look for in hypothyroidism include fatigue, accelerated weight gain, dry skin, and forgetfulness. On the other hand, those that suffer from hyperthyroidism report weight loss, an increased heart rate, trouble sleeping, and hand tremor. It’s also important to know that a few symptoms can be seen in both types of the disease, such as enlargement of the thyroid and swelling in the neck area.

How Are They Treated?

thyroid health sign with foods that are good for the thyroid gland

The first step to being checked for thyroid disease is the use of what is called a TSH test. This is a blood test that looks for the amount of serum thyrotropin in your body. The treatment processes for the two types of thyroid disorders are slightly different as well. For those with hyperthyroidism, the use of beta blockers is normally prescribed to slow heart rate, decrease tremors, and reduce irritability. Hypothyroidism is normally treated with the prescription of a supplemental thyroid hormone.

Main Causes of the Diseases

You may be wondering what causes thyroid disorders. While there are many different factors, there are a few common sources. Graves’ Disease is the most common culprit of hyperthyroidism. It is an autoimmune disease that causes your immune system to attack the thyroid, which can cause your thyroid to grow and release excess hormones. When it comes to hypothyroidism, there are a few more possible causes because it is simply something that is causing your thyroid not to function properly. Some of these factors may include Hashimoto’s syndrome, cancer, surgical treatment, and even some medications.

Would you like to learn more about the similarities and differences between hypothyroidism vs. hyperthyroidism? Contact our Michigan pharmacies and we will be happy to answer any questions you may have! We look forward to hearing from you!