Hypothyroidism occurs when your body fails to produce enough thyroid hormones. However, Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland produces too much of the hormones (T4, T3, or both). Both have different symptoms, causes and require different strategies for their treatment.

Symptoms of HypothyroidismSome common symptoms of hypothyroidism:

Symptoms of Hypothyroidism

Some common symptoms of hypothyroidism:

  • Puffy face
  • Muscle weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Thinning hair
  • Increased sensitivity to cold
  • Constipation
  • Dry skin
  • Weight gain
  • Hoarseness
  • Depression
  • Impaired memory
  • Elevated blood cholesterol level
  • Muscle aches, tenderness and stiffness
  • Pain, stiffness or swelling in your joints
  • Heavier than normal or irregular menstrual periods
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Enlarged thyroid gland (goiter)

Symptoms of hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism can mimic other health problems, which can make it difficult to be diagnosed. It can also cause a wide variety of signs and symptoms, including:

  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Pounding of your heart
  • Increased appetite
  • Nervousness, anxiety and irritability
  • Tremor — usually a fine trembling in your hands and fingers
  • Sweating
  • Changes in menstrual patterns
  • Increased sensitivity to heat
  • Changes in bowel patterns
  • An enlarged thyroid gland (goiter), which may appear as a swelling at the base of your neck
  • Fatigue, muscle weakness
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Skin thinning
  • Fine, brittle hair

Causes of hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism results when the thyroid gland fails to produce enough hormones. It may occur due to a number of factors, including:

  • Autoimmune disease: The most common cause of hypothyroidism is an autoimmune disorder known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
  • Over-response to hyperthyroidism treatment: People who produce too much thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism) are often treated with radioactive iodine or anti-thyroid medications. The goal of these treatments is to get thyroid function back to normal. But sometimes, correcting hyperthyroidism can end up lowering thyroid hormone production too much, resulting in permanent hypothyroidism.
  • Radiation therapy: Radiation used to treat cancers of the head and neck can affect your thyroid gland and may lead to hypothyroidism.
  • Thyroid surgery: Removing all or a large portion of your thyroid gland can diminish or halt hormone production. In that case, you’ll need to take thyroid hormone for life.
  • Medications. A number of medications can contribute to hypothyroidism. One such medication is lithium, which is used to treat certain psychiatric disorders.
  • Congenital diseases: Some babies are born with a defective thyroid gland or no thyroid gland. In most cases, the thyroid gland didn’t develop normally for unknown reasons, but some children have an inherited form of the disorder.
  • Pituitary disorder: A relatively rare cause of hypothyroidism is the failure of the pituitary gland to produce enough thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) — usually because of a benign tumor of the pituitary gland.
  • Pregnancy: Some women develop hypothyroidism during or after pregnancy. This condition is called as postpartum hypothyroidism and occurs because they produce antibodies against their own thyroid gland. If it is left untreated, it may increase the risk of miscarriage, premature delivery, and preeclampsia — a condition that causes a significant rise in a woman’s blood pressure during the last three months of pregnancy. It can also seriously affect the developing fetus.
  • Iodine deficiency: The trace mineral iodine — found primarily in seafood, seaweed, plants grown in iodine-rich soil, and iodized salt — is essential for the production of thyroid hormones. Too little iodine can lead to hypothyroidism, and too much iodine can worsen hypothyroidism in people who already have the condition.

Causes of hyperthyroidism

A variety of conditions can cause hyperthyroidism. Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disorder, is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism. It causes antibodies to stimulate the thyroid to secrete too much hormone. Graves’ disease occurs more often in women than in men.

Other causes of hyperthyroidism include:

  • Excess iodine, a key ingredient in T4 and T3
  • Thyroiditis, or inflammation of the thyroid, which causes T4 and T3 to leak out of the gland
  • Tumors of the ovaries or testes
  • Benign tumors of the thyroid or pituitary gland
  • Large amounts of tetraiodothyronine taken through dietary supplements or medication

Medications for Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is best treated by using levothyroxine (Levothroid, Levoxyl). This synthetic version of the T4 hormone copies the action of the thyroid hormone your body would normally produce. Once hormone levels are restored, symptoms of the condition are likely to disappear or at least become much more manageable.

In most cases, people with hypothyroidism must remain on this medication their entire lives. However, it’s unlikely you’ll continue to take the same dose. To make sure your medication is still working properly, your doctor should test your TSH levels yearly. If blood levels indicate the medicine isn’t working as well as it should, your doctor will adjust the dose until a balance is achieved.

Alternative treatment for hypothyroidism

Animal extracts that contain thyroid hormones are available. These extracts come from the thyroid glands of pigs (So, definitely not Halal). They contain both T4 and triiodothyronine (T3).

If you take levothyroxine, you’re only receiving T4. But that’s all you need because your body is capable of producing T3 from the synthetic T4. It is noteworthy that these alternative animal extracts are often unreliable in dosing and haven’t been shown in studies to be better than levothyroxine. For these reasons, they aren’t routinely recommended.

 

People with hypothyroidism should follow the following recommendations to keep their thyroid hormones in balance:

  • Eat a balanced diet (with adequate amounts of iodine) but you don’t need to take an iodine supplement in order for that to happen. A balanced diet of whole grains, beans, lean proteins, and colorful fruits and vegetables should provide enough iodine.
  • Monitor soy intake: Soy may hinder the absorption of thyroid hormones. If you drink or eat too many soy products, you may not be able to properly absorb your medication. This can be especially important in infants needing treatment for hypothyroidism who also drink soy formula.

Some common soy products are:

  • Tofu
  • Vegan cheese and meat products
  • Soy milk
  • Soybeans
  • Soy sauce
  • Smart intake of fiber: Fiber may also interfere with hormone absorption. Too much dietary fiber may prevent your body from getting the hormones it needs. Fiber is important, so don’t avoid it entirely. Instead, avoid taking your medicine within several hours of eating high-fiber foods.

Medication for hyperthyroidism

The most common treatment for treating hyperthyroidism is to use Antithyroid medications. Anti-thyroid medications such as methimazole (Tapazole) stop the thyroid from making hormones. Moreover, radioactive iodine is often given to patients with hyperthyroidism. It effectively destroys the cells that produce hormones.

However, the Common side effects of using radioactive iodine include dry mouth, dry eyes, sore throat, and changes in taste. Precautions may need to be taken for a short time after treatment to prevent radiation spread to others.

Surgery

A section or all of your thyroid gland may be surgically removed. You will then have to take thyroid hormone supplements to prevent hypothyroidism, which occurs when you have an underactive thyroid that secretes too little hormone. Also, beta-blockers such as propranolol can help control your rapid pulse, sweating, anxiety, and high blood pressure. Most people respond well to this treatment.

Natural Treatment for hyperthyroidism

The mineral iodine plays a key role in making thyroid hormones. A low-iodine diet helps to reduce thyroid hormones. Add these foods to your daily diet:

  • Non-iodized salt
  • Coffee or tea (without milk or dairy- or soy-based creamers)
  • Egg whites
  • Fresh or canned fruit
  • Unsalted nuts and nut butters
  • Homemade bread or breads made without salt, dairy, and eggs
  • Popcorn with non-iodized salt
  • Oats
  • Potatoes
  • Honey
  • Maple syrup

Cruciferous vegetables and other types may stop your thyroid from using iodine properly. They may be beneficial for hyperthyroidism:

  • Bamboo shoots
  • Bok choy
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cassava
  • Cauliflower
  • Collard greens
  • Kale
  • Mustard
  • Rutabaga

Avoid iodine and soy products if you have hyperthyroidism

If you have hyperthyroidism, you need to avoid high iodine supplements. And shift to a low-iodine diet, which means you should avoid:

  • Iodized salt
  • Seafood
  • Dairy products
  • High amounts of poultry or beef
  • High amounts of grain products (such as bread, pasta, and pastries)
  • Egg yolks

In addition, you should avoid soy products such as

  • Tofu
  • Soy milk
  • Soy sauce
  • Soybeans.

This is because of the fact that soy can interfere with thyroid function

Bottom Line:

If you experience any of the above-mentioned symptoms associated with the thyroid hormone levels in your body, you should avoid self-medication and see a doctor ASAP. He knows the treatment better than your Google search!