Magazine, Spring 2017: The Easter Issue, Wellness

Hyperthyroidism & Hypothyroidism: The Difference & How to Prevent It

When you look in the mirror, have you ever noticed a butterfly-shaped gland near the front of your neck? Have you ever wondered what it does? What is it? That butterfly shaped gland is your thyroid, and it’s probably one of the most important organs in your body. It’s responsible for regulating just some of the following:

  • Breathing
  • Heart rate
  • Nervous system
  • Weight

Your thyroid is also responsible for regulating body temperature, cholesterol, and for women, their menstrual cycles. The thyroid is part of the endocrine system, which, according to Endocrine Web, produce, store, and release hormones into the body. Your thyroid uses iodine from the foods you eat to make the hormones. It is a vital organ; it is the lifeline for all your other organs. If your body produces too little or too much of the thyroid hormones, it can wreak havoc on your body.

If your body produces too much of the thyroid hormones, this is known as hyperthyroidism. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include the following:

  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Nervousness
  • Hair loss
  • Light or missed menstrual periods
  • Sweating and sensitivity to high temperatures
  • Hand trembling

Your thyroid can also produce too few or too little of the thyroid hormone. This is known as hypothyroidism. Symptoms of hypothyroidism can include:

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Fatigue
  • Dry skin and hair
  • Depression

To check to see if your thyroid is functioning properly, your physician will do a simple blood test. She/he will check to make sure your hormone levels aren’t too high or too low. The test may need to be repeated before the results come back conclusive, but if your thyroid isn’t functioning properly, your doctor may prescribe synthetic hormones.

My mom suffers from an extreme form of hypothyroidism, in which hers stopped working entirely years ago. She gets a blood test done once a year and is on thyroid medication. Depending on her thyroid, levels at the time of the test depends on the dosage and strength of the medication.

How Can I Prevent Hyperthyroidism or Hypothyroidism?

While you can’t necessarily prevent either, you can treat and manage the symptoms as they occur. If you’ve been diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, you can do the following:

  • Work on lowering your stress levels
  • Quit smoking

If you’ve been diagnosed with hypothyroidism, this is a bit trickier to prevent. Your hypothyroidism will need to be treated with medication and monitored on a yearly basis. If you notice any changes, you’ll need to alert your doctor right away.

Are There Certain Foods I Should or Should Not Eat With Having A Thyroid Condition?

If you’ve been diagnosed with either thyroid condition, there are certain foods that could make the symptoms better or worse. If you have hyperthyroidism, avoiding foods that are high in carbs will help. Also avoid foods that are cruciferous, such as dark leafy greens (broccoli and kale), cauliflower and cabbage. You should also avoid alcohol and caffeine, as well as unhealthy fats. Foods to avoid if you have hypothyroidism include soy, cruciferous vegetables, gluten, sugary foods, and more.

For more information about hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism, and how to prevent it, check out the following articles:

19 Signs Your Thyroid Isn’t Working Right – ABC

Hypothyroidism vs. Hyperthyroidism: What’s the Difference? – Everyday Health

How Does the Thyroid Work? – National Library of Medicine

Do you have thyriod problems? Let us know what you do to keep it in check below!

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