The thyroid is small butterfly shaped gland located in your neck and one of its main functions is to produce hormones that help regulate the body’s metabolism. These hormones are called triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4).
Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) is a condition in which your thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough of T4 & T3. It usually occurs in later life with many women being diagnosed in their thirties and beyond and it may be as a result of hormonal changes e.g. pregnancy. The most common cause of hypothyroidism is an autoimmune condition called Hashimoto’s but it may also be caused by a lack of nutrients required to support the thyroid gland in the production of the thyroid hormones. If these nutrients are deficient, the thyroid gland may slow down and not function adequately.
Typical signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism may include fatigue, increased sensitivity to cold, constipation, dry skin, weight gain, puffy face, hoarseness, muscle weakness, elevated blood cholesterol level, muscle aches, tenderness and stiffness, pain, stiffness or swelling in your joints, heavier than normal or irregular menstrual periods, thinning hair, slowed heart rate, depression and / or impaired memory.
Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) is most commonly caused by an autoimmune disease known as Graves’ disease. Hyperthyroidism may be hereditary, caused by emotional stress or unknown factors.
Typical symptoms of hyperthyroidism may include nervousness, anxiety and irritability, mood swings, difficulty sleeping, persistent tiredness and weakness, sensitivity to heat, swelling in your neck from an enlarged thyroid gland (goitre), an irregular and/or unusually fast heart rate (palpitations), twitching or trembling or unintentional weight loss.
The symptoms of hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism may seem like opposites of each other, but in reality a number of symptoms cross over and different symptoms can manifest in each individual. As all hormones in the body are connected, often hypo or hyperthyroidism will present itself in conjunction with other hormonal imbalances.