Thyroid Conditions - Hyperthyroidism vs Hypothyroidism
Who would have guessed that the thyroid gland would have a large impact on our bodies’ health. This small gland plays a large role on regulating our metabolism, along with breaking down nutrients for energy. All of this is made possible by the thyroid producing hormones that travel throughout the body; more specifically, the hormone thyroxine(T4) and triiodothyronine(T3).
Since each person is unique from another, the same can apply to the thyroid gland. Even though food gives the body energy, the body may break down those nutrients at different rates. This results in certain people having a “slower” metabolism, while others may have a “faster” working metabolism. In other words, some people have an hyperactive or a hypo-active – underactive – thyroid (hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, respectively).
At Diamond Chiropractic, our team is exceptional when it comes to understanding the thyroid, and how it can affect the body’s metabolism. Whether it is an ongoing condition, and it is starting to worsen (known as a “chronic” condition), or it appeared very suddenly (an “accute” condition), our Chiropractor in Omaha has the answer and treatment for you.
Hyperthyroidism vs. Hypothyroidism
Before we jump into what patients could look for, and what could be possible causes, let us first describe the differences between hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.
Hyperthyroidism is when the thyroid gland produces too much hormones. Also known as an overactive thyroid, this can result in your body’s metabolism accelerating, which can cause a rapid heartbeat and unexplainable weight loss. Because of this, it can be difficult to determine if a patient is experiencing hyperthyroidism.
Hypothyroidism, however, is when the thyroid does not produce enough hormones; also called an underactive thyroid. This can lead to multiple health problems, including joint pain, weight gain and/or obesity, and heart disease. Because of this, it can be difficult to determine if a patient has hypothyroidism, due to the lack of hormone production.
Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism/ Hypothyroidism
While hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism can mimic other health issues, the two conditions have certain symptoms that differ from each other. Several of the more apparent, opposing symptoms of the two conditions are provided below.
Unintentional weight loss
Increased heart rate
Increased sensitivity to heat
Frequent bowel movements
Tremor in hands/fingers
Slowed heart rate
Increased sensitivity to cold
Stiffness or swelling in joints
A person’s personality, behavior, and overall skin and hair condition can be affected as well. A hyperactive thyroid can result nervousness and anxiety, irritability, and difficulty with sleeping. In contrast, feeling depressed and having an impaired memory means a patient has an underactive thyroid. As for skin and hair, hyperthyroidism can cause skin to thin and hair to become finer, while hypothyroidism leads to dry skin and hair thinning.
Surprisingly, both conditions can cause muscle weakness, as well as an enlarged thyroid gland (goiter) at the base of the neck. In addition, women suffering from either condition will experience changes in their menstrual patterns.
What Causes These Conditions?
Like many other conditions, there is no one definitive cause behind both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. These conditions occur when something causes the thyroid gland to function improperly, to produce too much or too little hormones.
As mentioned earlier, the hormones T3 and T4 are crucial for regulating the body’s metabolism. This includes regulating your body temperature, controlling your heart rate, producing protein in the body, and regulating energy absorption from fats and carbohydrates. In addition, the thyroid produces calcitonin, a hormone that helps monitor the amount of calcium in the bloodstream.
Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid overproduces the hormone T4. Possible causes for this include: Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disorder resulting in antibodies stimulating the thyroid to produce more hormones; thyroiditis, an inflammation in the gland; or hyperfunctioning thyroid nodules.
Hypothyroidism, however, occurs when the thyroid produces little to no hormones, due to a multitude of reasons. Like the previous condition, one common cause is an autoimmune disorder, especially when antibodies attack the body’s own tissues and organs such as the thyroid. Other common causes include radiation therapy, thyroid surgery, certain medications, genetics, environmental triggers, and even as a response to hyperthyroidism treatment. In some cases, hypothyroidism could be the result of either: a congenital disease, especially in infants; a pituitary gland disorder; iodine deficiency; or even pregnancy.