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Q: What is the difference between hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism?

The thyroid is a gland in your neck that is important for regulating the hormones that control metabolism. When the thyroid isn’t functioning properly, and these hormones become unbalanced, it can cause several health problems.

Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid produces too much hormone, causing your metabolism to become over-active. This can be caused by medical conditions including Graves disease, or by nodules on the thyroid.

Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include a racing heartbeat, shaking, sweating, muscle weakness, and weight loss. You may also feel restless, irritable, or anxious, and other symptoms may include brittle hair and nails, and thin skin.

With hypothyroidism, the opposite problem occurs. The thyroid does not produce enough hormone, and your metabolism slows down. This can be caused by Hashimoto’s disease, or when your thyroid glad has been damaged by surgery or radiation.

Symptoms can include fatigue, weight gain, depression, weakness, slower heart rate, dry skin, constipation, and sensitivity to cold. In severe cases it can lead to coma.

Fortunately, both of these conditions are treatable with medication or surgery. If you think you may have a thyroid problem, talk with your doctor about getting a diagnosis.

Travis W. Glenn, MD

Family Medicine

Glenn Family Medicine, LLC
85 Maui Lani Parkway
Wailuku, , HI 96793