What is an Underactive or Overactive Thyroid?

Last Updated Jul 28, 2020

What is an Underactive or Overactive Thyroid?

An underactive or overactive thyroid (also known as hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism) can bring on a whole range of uncomfortable symptoms. But what exactly is an underactive or overactive thyroid – and is thyroid disease something you should worry about?

What is the thyroid?

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in the neck that secretes hormones to keep the heart, brain, muscles and other body parts healthy and using energy in the best way possible.
If you have an underactive or overactive thyroid, it can wreak havoc on your metabolism – either speeding it up (overactive) or slowing it down (underactive).

What is an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism)?

An underactive thyroid is the more common of the two conditions. It happens when the thyroid doesn’t produce enough hormones for the body.
Hashimoto’s disease (an autoimmune disease) is the most common cause of hypothyroidism.
Common symptoms of hypothyroidism include:
•    Fatigue
•    Cold sensitivity
•    Weight gain
•    Depression
•    Constipation
•    Muscle aches, cramps and weakness
•    Dry skin
•    Brittle nails and hair
•    Low libido
•    Irregular or heavy periods
•    Slow metabolism

What is an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism)?

Hyperthyroidism is the opposite. It speeds up the metabolism, causing symptoms such as:
•    Anxiety and nervousness
•    Hyperactivity
•    Mood swings
•    Trouble sleeping
•    Heat sensitivity
•    Diarrhoea
•    Frequent urination
•    Itchy skin
•    Excessive thirst
•    Weight loss
The most common type of overactive thyroid is Grave’s disease. This causes the thyroid gland to swell, while inflammation makes the eyes seem larger.

When should you get treated?

If you experience any thyroid disorder symptoms, it’s important to see a healthcare professional. They’ll be able to properly diagnose you, check your hormone levels, and propose the best course of action.

Originally published on Jun 25, 2018

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