The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the neck. It produces various hormones that regulate metabolism in our body. Any dysfunction or disease of this gland can, therefore, negatively impact our health.
Now, we have all heard of the ‘thyroid disease’. But did you know that there is more than one type of thyroid disease? Hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism are two such diseases that affect the thyroid gland. The two conditions may sound alike at first but they are as different as two diseases could be.
Here are some of the differences between hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.
Hypothyroidism occurs when your thyroid gland stops producing enough thyroid hormone. As a result, a person with hypothyroidism shows the following symptoms:
- Weight gain
- Memory loss
- Irregular or abnormal periods
- Hair loss
- Dry skin
Causes of hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism occurs due to various reasons but the most common cause of is Hashimoto thyroiditis - an autoimmune disease characterised by inflammation of the thyroid gland. Autoimmune diseases are those in which our body’s immune system starts attacking healthy cells.
Hypothyroidism may also occur due to infections of the thyroid gland, surgical removal of the thyroid gland, side effects of medications and effects of radiation given for cancer treatment.
Conditions that occur due to hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism can increase the risk of various conditions such as:
- High cholesterol levels
- Heart disease
- Nerve damage leading to numbness in various areas
- Miscarriage or premature birth
Contrary to hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland produces excess thyroid hormone. A person with hyperthyroidism experiences the following:
- Weight loss
- Arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) or fast heartbeat
- Difficulty sleeping
- Intolerance to heat
- Mood swings
- Muscle weakness
Causes of hyperthyroidism
Hyperthyroidism occurs due to thyroiditis (inflammation of the thyroid gland), Grave’s disease (an autoimmune disease that affects the thyroid gland) or thyroid nodules. Pituitary tumours may also lead to hyperthyroidism - thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) released by the pituitary gland regulates the production of thyroid hormones.
Conditions that can occur due to hyperthyroidism
Untreated hyperthyroidism can lead to the following conditions like:
- Blood clots, heart failure or stroke
- Heart diseases
- Pregnancy complications
- Osteoporosis or thinning of bones
- Graves’ ophthalmopathy, which can lead to eye pain, light sensitivity, double vision and even vision loss.
People at risk of developing hypo/hyperthyroidism
Women are more likely to get both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. If you are older than 60 years of age, you may be at risk of the disease.
If you have a family history of either of the conditions or if you were pregnant within the last 6 months, you are likely to get either of the diseases.
Health conditions like type 1 diabetes and pernicious anaemia increase the risk of both hypo and hyperthyroidism. Rheumatoid arthritis and lupus may put you at risk of hypothyroidism and if you eat a large amount of iodine-containing foods, you are more likely to develop hyperthyroidism.
For more information, read our article on Thyroid problems.
Health articles on News18 are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.