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Identifying Hypothyroidism and Hyperthyroidism

February 08, 2024 Posted in: Primary Care

The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland at the base of your neck that produces hormones which play a pivotal role in regulating metabolism, body temperature, growth, and other bodily functions. When the thyroid gland produces too much of the hormone, it results in hyperthyroidism. When the gland does not make enough thyroid hormones for the body, it leads to hypothyroidism, which is also called an underactive thyroid. 

These conditions often arise due to autoimmune thyroid diseases such as Graves’ disease and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Graves’ disease results in the overproduction and release of thyroid hormones, while Hashimoto’s thyroiditis there is a decrease in production of thyroid hormone. Hyperthyroidism can also result from other causes such as direct trauma to the thyroid or due to effects of medications like immunotherapy. Hypothyroidism may stem from thyroid surgery, radiation, radioactive iodine therapy, or certain medications like lithium and anti-seizuremedicines.

While both conditions are more common in women than men, additional risk factors increase the likelihood of developing them, including having a family history of thyroid disease, a personal history of autoimmune diseases, or being over age 50. To reduce your risk of developing either of these conditions, it’s important to maintain a balanced diet and avoid excessive iodine supplements.


Symptoms Hypothyroidism Hyperthyroidism
Feeling weak and tired X X
Feeling restless   X
Slow speech X  
Increased heart rate   X
Sweating   X
Feeling cold X  
Constipation X  
Increased bowel movements   X
Weight loss X X
Mild weight gain X  


Untreated hypothyroidism may lead to cognitive dysfunction and increase your risk for cardiovascular disease. Untreated hyperthyroidism can cause irregular heart rhythms potentially leading to blood clots, an increased risk of osteoporosis, congestive heart failure, and even a life-threatening event known as a thyroid storm. Diagnosing these conditions often begins during your physical exam with your primary care provider. Once lab tests of thyroid levels confirm an issue, you will be referred to an endocrinologist for evaluation and treatment planning. If you or a loved one is exhibiting symptoms of hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, don’t delay. Contact your health care provider for timely intervention.

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