Hyperthyroidism vs. Hypothyroidism | News | Loyola Medicine
Saturday, January 20, 2018

Hyperthyroidism vs. Hypothyroidism: What's the Difference?

Loyola's Pauline Camacho, MD, Offers Tips for National Thyroid Awareness Month

Illustration of thyroid

MAYWOOD, IL – In our daily life, we may sometimes feel rundown, stressed or have unexpected weight fluctuations and think it is nothing out of the ordinary. Yet for some people, these symptoms could be a sign of an underactive or overactive thyroid.

In recognition of National Thyroid Awareness month, Loyola Medicine endocrinologist Pauline Camacho, MD, FACE, Immediate Past President of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, offers the following information about thyroid health.

The thyroid is a butterfly shaped organ that resides in your neck and secretes hormones that help regulate heart, brain, muscles and other organs functions. Think of it as a control center for your body. If something is off in the body, the thyroid can overcompensate or underperform causing effects on the metabolism.

"If your thyroid is overactive, it can cause your metabolism to work overtime and the condition is known as hyperthyroidism," said Dr. Camacho. "The opposite is known as hypothyroidism, when your metabolism slows down."

Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include but aren't limited to increased appetite, sudden weight loss, anxiety, difficulty sleeping, thinning hair, thinning skin, sensitivity to heat and bulging eyes.

Hypothyroidism symptoms include weight gain, being lethargic, dry skin, muscle weakness and depression.  

For patients experiencing these symptoms, Dr. Camacho suggests talking with your primary care physician, who will decide whether thyroid hormone blood test is needed.

Hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism treatments vary. Hyperthyroidism may be treated with medications that slow down the production of thyroid hormone. Other treatments include radioactive therapy and surgery.

Hypothyroidism is typically treated with medication and working with your doctor to find the proper dosage.

"There's often a family history when it comes to thyroid conditions," Dr. Camacho said. "With autoimmune diseases, there's a genetic predisposition that may give us advance warning of the possibility of disease."

Thyroid conditions affect both men and women but for women, the rates of hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism are almost 40 percent higher. 

Once a diagnosis is made, many patients experience overall improvements to their health.

"Hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism are treatable and the goal is for patients to see a significant change in their quality of life," said Dr. Camacho. "By raising awareness, we can provide knowledge of these conditions and knowing is half the battle."

For more information on thyroid awareness month, please visit http://thyroidawareness.com.

Loyola Medicine's endocrinologists provide comprehensive evaluation and treatment of diabetes mellitus, multiple endocrine neoplasia, female and male gonadal dysfunction and other hormonal disorders, including dysfunction of the thyroid, adrenal, parathyroid and pituitary glands.

About Loyola Medicine and Trinity Health

Loyola Medicine, a member of Trinity Health, is a quaternary care system based in the western suburbs of Chicago that includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, MacNeal Hospital and convenient locations offering primary and specialty care services from 1,877 physicians throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. LUMC is a 547-licensed-bed hospital in Maywood that includes the William G. and Mary A. Ryan Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, Illinois's largest burn center, a certified comprehensive stroke center and a children’s hospital. Having delivered compassionate care for over 50 years, Loyola also trains the next generation of caregivers through its teaching affiliation with Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine and Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing. Gottlieb is a 247-licensed-bed community hospital in Melrose Park with 150 physician offices, an adult day care program, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park. MacNeal Hospital is a 374-bed teaching hospital in Berwyn with advanced inpatient and outpatient medical, surgical and psychiatric services, advanced diagnostics and treatments. MacNeal has a 12-bed acute rehabilitation unit, a 25-bed inpatient skilled nursing facility, and a 68-bed behavioral health program and community clinics. MacNeal has provided quality, patient-centered care to the near west suburbs since 1919.

Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic healthcare systems in the nation, serving diverse communities that include more than 30 million people across 22 states. Trinity Health includes 92 hospitals, as well as 109 continuing care locations that include PACE programs, senior living facilities and home care and hospice services. Its continuing care programs provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually. Based in Livonia, Mich., and with annual operating revenues of $18.3 billion and assets of $26.2 billion, the organization returns $1.1 billion to its communities annually in the form of charity care and other community benefit programs. Trinity employs about 129,000 colleagues, including 7,800 employed physicians and clinicians. Committed to those who are poor and underserved in its communities, Trinity is known for its focus on the country's aging population. As a single, unified ministry, the organization is the innovator of Senior Emergency Departments, the largest not-for-profit provider of home health care services—ranked by number of visits—in the nation, as well as the nation’s leading provider of PACE (Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly) based on the number of available programs.