Your thyroid gland governs your metabolism. When it’s in good working order, it helps your body burn the calories you take in and gives you the energy to function properly in all your day-to-day activities. If your thyroid gland is underactive, you’re said to have hypothyroidism and if it’s overactive, you have hyperthyroidism.
Hypothyroidism is more common than hyperthyroidism and is easier to treat. If you are diagnosed with hypothyroidism, you may be placed on thyroid hormone replacement therapy to regulate and balance the thyroid hormones in your body. This will help your metabolism work properly.
In the case of hyperthyroidism, when your thyroid gland is working overtime, you may have to have part or all of your thyroid removed. If you have part of the thyroid gland removed and the remainder continues to over-produce thyroid hormones, you may need to have the rest removed, at which point you will require thyroid hormone therapy.
Lethargy and Anxiety Could Be Signs of a Larger Problem
So how do you know if you have hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism? When should you go to the doctor and get your thyroid checked? The symptoms of both can be attributed to a number of causes but if you look at them in conjunction, you’ll see the warning signs and know when you should go get checked out.
If you’ve been feeling really tired, to the point of exhaustion, no matter how much sleep you get is often one of the first symptoms of hypothyroidism. Add to that a feeling of depression, difficulty concentrating, a low libido, dry skin, constipation, sensitivity to cold, weight gain and/or thinning hair, and you have a strong case for believing that you may have hypothyroidism.
If, on the other hand, you find that you’re jittery and anxious, you have trouble sleeping, develop heat sensitivity, unexplained weight loss, diarrhea, and/or you experience heart palpitations, you may have hyperthyroidism.
Interestingly, both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism display a few symptoms in common. If you suffer from either an over- or underactive thyroid, you will find that you suffer from “fuzzy” brain, altered tastes and appetites, and – for women – your menstrual cycle changes and you may have trouble conceiving.
In the case of hypothyroidism, your symptoms will revolve around a sluggish, ineffective metabolism. Your appetite will disappear, but you will continue to gain weight. You will sleep as often and as long as possible, but you will never wake up feeling energized.
If you’re suffering from hyperthyroidism, on the other hand, you will have an increased appetite but continue to lose weight. As your metabolism is constantly in overdrive, you won’t be able to relax. While people with hypothyroidism experience increased blood pressure due to gained weight and burdens on the body, you will experience it because your heart is pumping so fast and so hard. You won’t ever feel like you can relax, and you may feel incredibly anxious causing difficulties in sleeping.
Both hyper- and hypothyroidism can be treated if diagnosed early. If not, they can both be very severe problems, and they may both eventually lead to death. If you’re experiencing any combination of any of these symptoms – even if it appears you are experiencing symptoms from both– it is important you seek medical attention as soon as possible. Discuss your concerns with your general practitioner. If she cannot diagnose you, she’ll refer you to a thyroid specialist who can help diagnose and treat your condition as needed.