The terms hyper and hypo are Latin for too much or above (hyper) and too little or below (hypo). (Think of hypodermic, which means below the skin). Knowing this, may make it easier to understand the difference between hyperthyroidism (too much / above) thyroid hormone and hypo (too little / below) thyroid hormone. So, Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland produces too little hormone and so it doesn’t function well, leading to weight gain, tiredness, sluggishness, memory problems, muscle aches, cramps and weakness, constipation and feeling cold, for instance. It can also cause irregular or heavy periods in women of child-bearing age.
Hyperthyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland produces too much hormone, which can cause a swelling in the neck (goitre) and lead to increased heart rate and palpitations, mood swings, feelings of irritability, anxiety and nervousness, weight loss, excessive sweating and feeling too hot.
The thyroid is the butterfly-shaped gland located in the neck and forms part of the endocrine system – see the pink area in the neck in the diagram.
Effect On Osteoporosis
Untreated hyperthyroidism if allowed to go on for a prolonged period or over-treated hypothyroidism can both lead to osteoporotic fractures if the patient falls. Primary hyperparathyroidism can also be a cause of osteoporosis.
Causes of Hypothyroidism
There are several causes of hypothyroidism, one of which is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, which is an autoimmune disease. For people diagnosed with hypothyroidism they will receive a treatment plan that usually involves taking medication to stimulate the thyroid gland to produce more hormone.
Iodine deficiency, that is not having enough iodine in your diet, can be a cause of hypothyroidism because iodine is an essential component of the thyroid hormones, so you might wonder is iodine good for hypothyroidism? In developed countries such as the Western world, the answer is a definite “NO”. In these countries, iodine is already added to certain foods, such as salt, so there is likely to be enough iodine available in a normal diet. And of course, if lack of iodine is not the cause of hypothyroidism, then taking extra iodine will not help and for some people may even make them worse.
Treatment Of Hyperthyroidism
Surgery is an option for treating an overactive thyroid gland. This removes part of the thyroid gland in the neck. This may allow it to produce a more normal level of thyroid hormone or it may be necessary to top up the level of naturally produced thyroid hormone with medication.