A female student experiencing bad symptoms.

Symptoms of Hypothyroidism and Hyperthyroidism

The thyroid gland manufactures hormones that influence nearly every cell in the body. This small butterfly-shaped gland not only makes hormones but is also affected by hormones originating from other endocrine glands. Because the thyroid gland plays such an essential role in the body, thyroid disorders can cause symptoms that can impact your daily life. 

Thyroid disorders are not always immediately evident, especially in the early stages. This article will discuss the early signs of hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism – two common thyroid disorders.

A female student experiencing bad symptoms.

Hyperthyroidism vs. Hypothyroidism

The main difference is that hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid is overactive, while hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid is underactive.

Hyperthyroidism

A condition that causes high thyroid hormone levels and an overactive metabolism, causing restlessness, anxiety, and weight loss.

Common symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:

  • Weight loss
  • Restlessness and irritability
  • Muscle weakness
  • Heat intolerance
  • Insomnia
  • Tremors in the hands
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Diarrhea
  • Mood swings.

Potential complications of Hyperthyroidism

Treating hyperthyroidism by managing symptoms and addressing any underlying disease is essential. Left untreated, hyperthyroidism can lead to irregular heart rates and cardiac complications such as blood clots, stroke, and heart failure.

Hyperthyroidism is often diagnosed alongside Graves’ disease, an autoimmune condition that forces the body’s immune system to attack itself. Graves’ disease can cause Graves’ ophthalmopathy,1 which can cause vision trouble and even blindness.

Who is most at risk for Hyperthyroidism?

Risk factors for developing hyperthyroidism include:

  • Being female
  • Being older than 60
  • Recent pregnancy
  • Family history of thyroid disease
  • Having had thyroid surgery or past thyroid issues
  • Having pernicious anemia, type 1 diabetes, or adrenal insufficiency
  • Taking medications or supplements that contain iodine.

What causes Hyperthyroidism?

A woman shot from below, has her eyes closed while her hands are up, holding her hat with one of her hand while an "X" is formed at the throat from the hat straps.Some causes of hyperthyroidism include:

  • Autoimmune disease: Some autoimmune disorders prompt the body to attack the thyroid, leading to the over-production of hormones. This process is prevalent in Graves’ disease.
  • Thyroid nodules: Thyroid nodules are growths on the thyroid that can become toxic and release unauthorized hormones.
  • Thyroiditis: Thyroiditis usually starts with a period of hyperthyroidism, followed by hypothyroidism.
  • Overmedication with thyroid replacement hormones: People with hypothyroidism will usually be prescribed thyroid replacement hormones. If the dosage is too high, it can cause hyperthyroidism symptoms.
  • High iodine levels: Eating too many foods high in iodine or taking medications containing iodine can result in hyperthyroidism.

Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is more common than hyperthyroidism and causes low levels of thyroid hormones. Since thyroid hormones influence metabolism, hypothyroidism symptoms include slowed metabolism, constipation, weight gain, depression, and cold intolerance. Symptoms of hypothyroidism can further vary based on your sex.2

Common symptoms specific to males include:Somebody's hands planting something which has two slim and green strips of leaves.

  • Hair loss
  • Low libido
  • Decreased muscle mass
  • Gynecomastia
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Delayed or premature ejaculation
  • Loss of fertility
  • Testicular atrophy (shrinking of the testicles).

Thyroid disorder in women may cause irregular menstrual cycles, early menopause, and lack of ovulation.

Potential Complications of Hypothyroidism

Seeking medical treatment for hypothyroidism is imperative to managing these uncomfortable symptoms. Hypothyroidism can cause complications during pregnancy,3 such as premature birth and high blood pressure, and can harm the growth and development of the baby. Left untreated, hypothyroidism can lead to complications such as high cholesterol. A rare complication of hypothyroidism is a life-threatening myxedema coma.4

Who is most at Risk for Hypothyroidism?

Certain risk factors increase your risk of developing hypothyroidism, such as:

  • Being over the age of 60
  • Having a medical history of other thyroid conditions
  • A recent pregnancy
  • Being diagnosed with Turner syndrome, Sjogren’s syndrome, type 1 diabetes, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or pernicious anemia.

What causes Hypothyroidism?

Common causes of hypothyroidism.

  • Autoimmune disease: The immune system sometimes attacks itself by mistake. When the thyroid is a target of an autoimmune disorder, it can cause reduced thyroid function.
  • Surgical removal of the thyroid gland: Treating hyperthyroidism or thyroid cancer can result in hypothyroidism.
  • Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy treats some thyroid conditions and can lead to hypothyroidism when the thyroid gland is damaged.
  • Congenital irregularities: Some people are born with an underactive thyroid gland.
  • Thyroiditis: Thyroiditis is an inflammation of the thyroid, which often results in hypothyroidism.
  • Some medications: Certain medications affect the thyroid gland, resulting in loss of functionality.
  • Low iodine levels: The thyroid utilizes iodine to create thyroid hormones. Your thyroid will not function efficiently if your iodine levels are low.
  • Pituitary gland dysfunction: The pituitary gland releases a thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), which instructs the thyroid to release hormones. If the pituitary gland isn’t functioning correctly, it will affect your thyroid hormone levels.

How can You confirm if You have Hyperthyroidism or Hypothyroidism?

A blonde slim woman holding an eprouvette filled with blood, taken from a stand of other 9 blood test eprouvettes.Be sure to visit your doctor for testing to confirm if you have a thyroid condition. Your doctor will review your medical health history and perform a physical exam. Medical professionals will perform blood tests to check your thyroid hormone levels and imaging scans to examine your thyroid.

Blood tests can show your doctor whether your body produces too much or too few thyroid hormones. Doctors may test TSH, T4, T3, and thyroid antibody levels.

  • TSH levels help your doctor determine whether your pituitary gland influences your thyroid’s health and functionality.
  • T4 and T3 levels show your doctor how much thyroid hormone your body is making.
  • Thyroid antibodies can determine if your thyroid issues are potentially related to an autoimmune disorder.
  • Imaging scans will show your doctor if you have abnormal thyroid growths, such as nodules.

You can test your thyroid levels with an at-home test. However, many at-home tests are not accurate, and it is essential to have your results interpreted by a healthcare professional to ensure proper diagnosis and treatment.

What Treatments are available for Hypothyroidism and Hyperthyroidism?

pills, tablets and other medicationIt is vital to have a trained professional assist and guide your thyroid treatment. Recovery from thyroid conditions usually involves medications, radioactive iodine, beta-blockers, or surgery.

For hypothyroidism, your doctor may recommend thyroid hormone replacement medications to compensate for insufficient thyroid hormones. Treatment for hyperthyroidism involves antithyroid drugs, radioactive iodine, beta-blockers, and surgical thyroid removal.

Summary

The symptoms of hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism can be painful and inconvenient. If you believe you may have a thyroid condition, you should seek professional medical help immediately. Your doctor can accurately diagnose your condition and choose the best treatment. Remember that thyroid conditions are often related to underlying issues that can be serious, so it is crucial to seek professional medical guidance to avoid more severe complications developing later on.

Schedule your at Home Thyroid Test with Driphydration

Drip Hydration can help you determine if your thyroid is functioning properly with in-home tests . One of our medical professionals will visit your home to collect samples for testing and consult with you to help you understand your results. Give us a call or make an appointment by clicking the button below!

Lab Testing - Frequently Asked Questions

Why is it important to do lab tests occasionally?

It is important to do lab tests occasionally because they can provide valuable information about an individual's health and help to identify potential health issues early on. Lab tests can measure a wide range of factors, including blood count, cholesterol levels, liver and kidney function, and hormone levels, and can provide insight into an individual's overall health and wellness. Additionally, lab tests can help to diagnose and monitor the progression of certain medical conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease, and can help to identify any potential health risks or concerns. By doing lab tests occasionally, individuals can take proactive steps to maintain their health and wellbeing and reduce the risk of potential health problems in the future.

How accurate are lab tests?

Overall, lab tests are generally considered to be accurate and reliable, but there is always a chance of error and it is important to consult with a healthcare professional to interpret the results.

How is a blood sample collected for lab testing?

A blood sample for lab testing is typically collected through a process called venipuncture, which involves inserting a small needle into a vein to draw blood. This is usually done on the inside of the elbow or the back of the hand.

What does a routine blood test cover?

A routine blood test is used to check for a range of things, including your blood count and the levels of certain chemicals and substances in your blood. Blood tests can also be used to check how well certain organs, such as your liver and kidneys, are functioning.

What does routine lab work cover?

Routine lab work typically includes a blood test, which is used to check for a range of things, including your blood count and the levels of certain chemicals and substances in your blood. In addition to a blood test, routine lab work may also include other tests, such as urine and stool tests, which can help diagnose and monitor conditions related to the kidneys, liver, and digestive system. 

Can a blood test identify cancer?

In some cases, cancer can be detected with a blood test. However, not all cancers can be detected with a blood test, and some blood tests can produce false-positive or false-negative results. 

Can a blood test find other particular issues like problems with the heart, liver, or kidneys?

Yes, a blood test can sometimes be used to detect heart, liver, and kidney problems. Blood tests can also be used to measure the levels of certain substances in your blood, such as cholesterol and glucose, which can help diagnose and monitor conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. In addition, a blood test can check your blood count, which can provide information about the health of your red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. However, it is important to note that a blood test is not always able to detect heart, liver, and kidney problems, and other tests, such as imaging scans or biopsies, may be needed to confirm a diagnosis.

What distinguishes a diagnostic test from a screening test?

A screening test is a type of test that is used to identify people who may be at increased risk of a particular condition, such as cancer or heart disease. In contrast, a diagnostic test is a type of test that is used to confirm or rule out a suspected diagnosis. So, the main difference between a screening test and a diagnostic test is the purpose for which the test is being performed.

Why do lab tests occasionally need to be repeated?

One common reason is that the initial test results were inconclusive or unclear, and repeating the test can help provide more accurate results. Lab tests may also be repeated if the initial results were abnormal and more information is needed to diagnose or monitor a condition. In addition, some lab tests are designed to be repeated on a regular basis, such as to monitor the effectiveness of a treatment or to check for any changes in a person's health over time. Finally, lab tests may be repeated if the initial test was performed incorrectly, or if there was some other problem with the sample that was collected.

Does having normal lab test results indicate I shouldn't worry about anything?

Having normal lab test results does not necessarily mean that you have nothing to worry about. Additionally, lab tests are not always able to detect all health conditions, and some conditions may not produce abnormal test results until they have progressed to a more advanced stage. 

What should I do after I have my lab test results?

After you have your lab test results, it is always best to discuss them with your healthcare provider. Your healthcare provider will be able to interpret the results in the context of your overall health and medical history, and they will be able to recommend any necessary follow-up tests or treatments.

What is the cost of a lab test?

In general, the cost of a lab test can range from a few dollars to several hundred dollars. It is always best to consult with your doctor or healthcare provider to get an accurate estimate of the cost of a lab test.

How is a blood sample for a lab test collected?

A blood sample for a lab test is typically collected through a process called venipuncture. This involves using a needle and syringe to draw blood from a vein, typically in the arm. The skin is cleaned with an antiseptic solution and a tourniquet is placed around the upper arm to help make the veins more visible. The healthcare provider performing the venipuncture will then insert the needle into a vein and collect the required amount of blood. The blood sample is then sent to a laboratory for testing.

Should I do anything to prepare for lab tests?

It is generally a good idea to speak with your doctor or healthcare provider to determine what, if any, preparations are necessary for your lab tests. In general, it is a good idea to follow any instructions provided by your healthcare provider, such as fasting for a certain amount of time before the test or avoiding certain medications. It is also a good idea to bring a list of all medications you are currently taking to your lab appointment.

Why is it necessary to fast before some tests?

Fasting before certain lab tests is often necessary because certain substances in the blood, such as glucose and certain fats, can affect the results of the test. By fasting, you are allowing your body to metabolize these substances, which can provide more accurate test results. Additionally, some tests require that you fast in order to properly prepare your body for the test.

Will a cup of coffee before my lab test mess with the results?

Whether or not you can have a cup of coffee before your test will depend on the specific test that you are undergoing and any instructions provided by your healthcare provider. If you are unsure about whether or not you can have a cup of coffee before your test, it is always best to ask your healthcare provider for advice.

Can my lab test get affected by diet or medications?

Yes, your diet and medications can affect the results of your lab tests. 

What do the lab test results mean?

The specific meaning of your lab test results will depend on the specific test that was performed and the reference range provided by the laboratory. The reference range is the range of values that is considered normal for a healthy person, and it is used to interpret the results of your lab test. If your test results fall within the reference range, it generally means that there is nothing unusual or concerning about your test results. However, if your test results are outside of the reference range, it may indicate a potential health concern that should be discussed with your healthcare provider.

Where are the reference (normal) ranges for lab tests?

The reference ranges for lab tests, also known as normal ranges, are determined by the laboratory that performs the test. These ranges are based on a large number of test results from healthy individuals, and they are used to interpret the results of your lab test. The reference range for each test is typically provided on the laboratory report along with your test results.

What if my lab test result is outside the reference range?

If your lab test result is outside of the reference range, it may indicate a potential health concern that should be discussed with your healthcare provider. Additionally, the reference range is just a general guide, and there may be other factors that can affect your test results.

How can I improve my lab test results?

There are several steps you can take to improve your lab test results. First, it is important to follow any instructions provided by your healthcare provider when preparing for a lab test, such as fasting for a certain amount of time before the test or avoiding certain medications. Additionally, maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help improve your lab test results. This includes eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and not smoking. If you have a chronic health condition, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, it is important to manage it properly and follow your healthcare provider's recommendations for treatment.

Does having abnormal lab test results indicate that I have a health issue?

Having abnormal lab test results does not necessarily mean that you have a health issue. There are many factors that can affect the accuracy of lab test results, such as your diet, medications, and other medical conditions. Additionally, the reference range used to interpret your test results is just a general guide, and there may be other factors that can affect your test results.

References

[1] Bahn RS. - Graves’ Ophthalmopathy. National Library of Medicine. Published January 25, 2014. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3902010/;

[2] Carlé A. - Gender differences in symptoms of hypothyroidism: a population-based DanThyr study. National Library of Medicine. Published December 2015. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25845636/;

[3] Sahay RK. - Hypothyroidism in pregnancy. National Library of Medicine. Published May 2012. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3354841/;

[4] Wall CR. - Myxedema coma: diagnosis and treatment. Am Fam Physician. 2000 Dec 1;62(11):2485-90. PMID: 11130234;