Hyperthyroidism vs hypothyroidism
Are you feeling overwhelmed by the symptoms of your Thyroid problems? Have you been diagnosed with Hyperthyroid or Hypothyroidism, but are still unsure about what it means for your life and health? The battle between these two thyroid disorders is real, as evidenced by their vastly different sets of symptoms and impacts on a person’s overall wellness.
Let’s take a closer look at the difference between hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism to understand how you can best manage either one.
Hypothyroidism vs Hyperthyroidism
Hyperthyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland produces too much of the hormone thyroxine. This causes an increase in metabolism, leading to hyperactivity.
- Irregular heartbeat
- Weight loss
- Anxiety and irritability
- Goiter (enlarged thyroid)
- Muscle weakness
- Irregular bowel movements
- Nervousness and trouble sleeping
Hypothyroidism is an underactive thyroid condition in which the thyroid gland produces too little of the hormone thyroxine. This causes a decrease in metabolism, leading to lethargy.
Hypothyroidism is more common in older adults, women, and people who have had thyroid surgery.
- Weight gain
- Hair loss and skin problems
- Irregular menstrual cycle
- Difficulty concentrating or Brain fog
While these symptoms are specific to hyperthyroidism, there are also some general symptoms that can be experienced by both hyper and hypothyroidism such as fatigue, dry skin, cold intolerance, and depression.
Causes of Hypothyroidism and Hyperthyroidism
Hyperthyroidism can be caused due to various reasons including:
- Grave's Disease: An autoimmune disease in which your body's immune system produces antibodies that stimulate the thyroid to make too much thyroxine
- Overactive nodules: Rarely, lumps form in the thyroid and start producing extra hormones on their own
- Excessive iodine intake: Taking too much iodine through dietary supplements or medications can cause hyperthyroidism
- Thyroid inflammation: Bacterial or viral infections can cause inflammation of the thyroid, leading to disruption in hormone production
- Thyroid hormone overdose: Taking too much thyroid hormone medication or supplements can also cause hyperthyroidism
The causes of hypothyroidism are similar to those of hyperthyroidism, with the main difference being that in this case, the gland produces too little thyroxine. Common causes include:
- Hashimoto's Disease: An autoimmune disease in which your body's immune system attacks your thyroid, resulting in reduced hormone production
- Underactive nodules: As with hyperthyroidism, lumps form in the thyroid that produces too few hormones on their own
- Iodine Deficiency: If a person is deficient in iodine and therefore not consuming enough through dietary sources, this can lead to the development of hypothyroidism
- Radiation Therapy: Radiation therapy for treating cancer can damage the thyroid and lead to reduced hormone production
- Medication Side-Effects: Certain medications, such as lithium, can interfere with the normal functioning of the thyroid gland
When you visit a functional medicine doctor to diagnose hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, they are likely to follow a step-by-step process focused on identifying the underlying cause of your condition:
First, your doctor will review your medical history and conduct a physical exam. This step is important for understanding any potential underlying health issues that may be causing or contributing to the thyroid disorder.
Next, you may need to have blood tests to check for thyroid levels in the bloodstream. They'll likely order tests such as:
- Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) Test: This test measures the amount of thyroid-stimulating hormone in your blood, which is an indicator of how much thyroxine your thyroid is producing.
- Free T4 Test: This test measures the amount of active thyroxine in your blood, which is what your body uses to regulate metabolism.
- Free T3 Test: This test measures the amount of active triiodothyronine in your blood, which is a hormone produced by the thyroid and helps to regulate metabolism.
- Thyroid Antibody Tests: This test measures the number of antibodies in your blood that is attacking your thyroid, which can indicate an autoimmune disorder like Grave's Disease or Hashimoto's.
With these tests, your doctor can get an accurate picture of what is going on with your thyroid and make a diagnosis.
Once you have been diagnosed, the next step is to discuss treatment options with your doctor. Treatment plans will vary depending on the cause and severity of the condition.
Common treatments for hyperthyroidism include:
- Radioactive iodine: This is a treatment that uses a form of radioactive iodine to destroy the overactive thyroid cells and reduce hormone production.
- Beta-blockers: These medications can block the effects of excess hormones and help reduce symptoms like sweating and heart palpitations.
- Antithyroid medication: These drugs work by blocking the production of thyroid hormones and can help reduce the symptoms of hyperthyroidism.
- Surgery: If other treatments are not effective or if there is a large nodule on the thyroid, your doctor may suggest surgical removal of part or all of the thyroid gland bring hormone levels back into balance.
Common treatments for hypothyroidism include:
- Thyroid hormone replacement therapy: This involves taking medications such as levothyroxine to help your body make up for the low levels of hormones.
- Iodine supplementation: If your doctor finds that you’re lacking in iodine, they may recommend taking a supplement or eating foods high in iodine.
- Thyroid surgery: In rare cases, surgical removal of part or all of the thyroid may be recommended to reduce hormone production.
Managing Your Symptoms at Home
Once you start your treatment plan, there are a few things you can do at home to help manage your symptoms.
- Eating a balanced diet: Eating a healthy, balanced diet of whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats will provide your body with the nutrition it needs to function properly.
- Exercising regularly: Exercise can help relieve stress and reduce fatigue associated with both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.
- Getting enough sleep: Aim for 8-10 hours of sleep each night to help reduce your symptoms.
- Limiting caffeine and alcohol intake: Caffeine and alcohol can interfere with hormone balance, so it’s best to limit their use.
- Supplementation: Taking supplements such as selenium and zinc may help to reduce symptoms of hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. Talk to your doctor before taking any supplements as some can interfere with treatments or medications.
Finally, it’s important to stay in touch with your doctor to monitor how your treatment is working. Your doctor may adjust the dosage of your medication or suggest other treatments as necessary. With proper diagnosis and treatment, you can manage your symptoms and live a healthy life.
How Functional Medicine Doctor can help you with Hypothyroidism & Hyperthyroidism?
Functional medicine doctors are trained to look at all aspects of your health instead of just focusing on a single organ or symptom.
They take into account the body as a whole and consider genetic, environmental, lifestyle, and diet factors that may be contributing to your condition.
A functional medicine doctor can help you create an individualized treatment plan for thyroid conditions, which may include dietary changes, lifestyle modifications, nutritional supplementation, and herbal remedies.
They can also help you monitor your hormone levels and make adjustments to your treatment plan as needed. This holistic approach can help you better manage and alleviate thyroid symptoms for a healthier life.
The functional medicine doctor follows a multifactorial approach toward the treatment of Hypothyroidism & Hyperthyroidism.
- Identify the root cause: A functional medicine doctor will take into consideration the patient’s medical history and lifestyle factors to identify the root cause of their condition. This might include identifying environmental toxins, nutrient deficiencies, heavy metal toxicity, digestive issues, or other underlying conditions that are contributing to an imbalance in hormones.
- Create a personalized treatment plan: Once the underlying cause is identified, the functional medicine doctor can create a personalized treatment plan that includes diet and lifestyle modifications as well as supplementation.
- Remove toxic factors: Working with the patient, the functional medicine doctor can help identify and remove any toxic factors that may be contributing to their condition. This might include removing food sensitivities or sources of heavy metal toxicity.
- Supplement with necessary nutrients: Depending on the patient’s individual needs, the functional medicine doctor may suggest supplementing with necessary vitamins and minerals to support thyroid health. This might include selenium, zinc, iron, iodine, or other nutrients.
- Suggest lifestyle changes: The functional medicine doctor is also likely to suggest lifestyle changes such as exercise, stress management techniques, and adequate sleep to help balance hormones.
- Monitor progress: The functional medicine doctor will work closely with the patient to monitor their progress over time and adjust their treatment plan as needed.
By following this multifactorial approach, a functional medicine doctor can help patients with Hypothyroidism & Hyperthyroidism reduce their symptoms and regain balance in their bodies.
If you’re looking for an individualized approach to treating thyroid conditions, consider consulting a functional medicine doctor. They can help create an individualized plan that will work best for your unique situation. With the right treatment plan, you can manage your symptoms and achieve optimal health.
To sum it up, even though hypothyroidism is more common than hyperthyroidism, both the thyroid diseases require attention and treatment from a medical professional. If you have any of the symptoms discussed above, it’s important to see a doctor and get tested. By doing so, you can get an accurate diagnosis and a treatment plan that works for you. With the right care, hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism can both be managed so you can continue living your life to the fullest.
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