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Hypothyroidism vs. Hyperthyroidism: What’s the difference?

Thyroid diseases are becoming more common than not. In India, an estimated 42 million people are burdened with thyroid related health issues. Therefore, it is imperative to consult an endocrinologist near you for a thorough understanding of the related symptoms for healthy functioning of hormones in your body.

Keeping in mind the importance of Thyroid Awareness Month, this blog will guide you through the differences in treatments for hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, signs that one must watch out for and the healthy lifestyle changes to adopt.

What are the treatments available for Hypothyroidism? | A.J. Hospital

> Hypothyroidism
When your thyroid gland is unable to make enough thyroid hormone, it leads to a condition called hypothyroidism. This leads to a slowed metabolism, causing weight gain. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune disorder, is the most common cause of hypothyroidism. It is more prevalent in women than in men.

Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
You may experience the following symptoms in case of an underactive thyroid problem:

  • Fatigue

  • Constipation

  • Dry skin

  • Weight gain

  • Elevated blood cholesterol levels

  • Aching or stiff joints

  • Irregular menstrual periods

  • Slowed heart rate

  • Depression

  • Impaired memory

  • Enlarged thyroid gland (goiter)

Risk factors of Hypothyroidism
Anyone can develop hypothyroidism. But you are at a higher risk if you,

  • Are older than 60 years

  • Are a woman

  • Have a family history of thyroid diseases

  • Have an autoimmune disease, such as type 1 diabetes or celiac disease

  • Have been exposed to radioactive iodine or radiation to your neck and upper chest

  • Have had thyroid surgery 

  • Are pregnant or delivered a baby within the past six months

Can hyperthyroidism be managed with a healthy diet and exercise?

> Hyperthyroidism
When your body produces excess thyroid hormones, thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3), i.e becomes overactive, you are diagnosed with hyperthyroidism. It can cause rapid heartbeats, sudden weight loss, anxiety and increased appetite.

Commonly, hyperthyroidism occurs due to:

  • Thyroiditis (inflammation of the thyroid gland)

  • A Thyroid nodule (produces too much T4 hormone)

  • Graves’ disease (an autoimmune disorder)

Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism
Hyperthyroidism can be misdiagnosed as its symptoms  are often shadowed by other health conditions. Do watch out for:

  • An enlarged thyroid gland (appears as a swelling at the base of your neck)

  • Sudden and unexplained weight loss

  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat 

  • Increased appetite

  • Anxiety or irritability

  • Trembling of your hands and fingers

  • Changes in menstrual patterns

  • Fatigue

  • Disturbed sleep

  • Changes in bowel patterns

 Risk factors associated with Hyperthyroidism
You are more vulnerable to hyperthyroidism if you,

  • Are female 

  • Have a family history of Graves' disease

  • Are suffering from certain chronic illnesses, such as type 1 diabetes, pernicious anemia and primary adrenal insufficiency

If left untreated, it can cause severe health complications such as:

  • Heart diseases: Rapid heart rates increase your risk of stroke and congestive heart failure.

  • Thyrotoxic crisis: A sudden intensification of your symptoms.

  • Brittle bones: Weak bones caused due to the interference of the thyroid hormone in the incorporation of calcium in your bones.

  • Red, swollen skin: Occurs on the shin and feet.

How to manage your thyroid health? 

  1. Exercise daily

Exercise boosts your metabolism naturally and just incorporating 20-30 mins of light physical activity or yoga and meditation have proven benefits for your thyroid and overall health. It helps stimulate thyroid production and also counters the side effects such as weight gain, muscle weakness and even depression.

  1. Plan your diet

Your diet plays a major role in healthy thyroid functionality. Foods rich in iodine such as eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt and sea foods, including seaweed, shellfish, and saltwater fish, help in the production of the thyroid stimulating hormone or TSH. Do keep in mind that foods that contain goitrogen should be avoided if you are dealing with thyroid disorders. This chemical, present in vegetables such as cabbage, kale, cauliflower and broccoli, loses most of its potency when cooked and hence should not be consumed when raw.

  1. Stress management

Elevated stress levels are directly linked to decreased thyroid hormone production. Do practice meditation or pick up a calming hobby to effectively manage your stress and thyroid health.

  1. Cold therapy

Your doctor may suggest cold water showers to the middle and lower back to help thyroid regulation in your body. You can also do a cold spray to your thyroid after a warm bath to stimulate thyroid hormone production.

  1. Visit a doctor

Annual health checkups and blood work is a great way to keep a check on your thyroid functioning  and catch the symptoms early. Do consult your nearest hospital for the recommended screenings to be done based on your age and health conditions.

Have any health queries that are bothering you? Consult with our dedicated team of doctors specializing in 30+ medical divisions at A.J. Hospital & Research Centre, Mangalore. You can also reach out to us at to book an appointment.