July 18, 2022

Hyperthyroidism vs Hypothyroidism: How to Tell the Difference

Key Takeaways

  • If your thyroid gland produces too little thyroxine, this can cause hypothyroidism. This condition slows down your metabolism causing unwanted weight gain, fatigue, and sensitivity to cold temperatures.
  • Symptoms of hypothyroidism include: Unintentional weight gain, fatigue, dry skin, constipation, unusual sensitivity to cold, muscle weakness, and puffy face.
  • Too much of the hormone thyroxine can cause hyperthyroidism. This condition speeds up your metabolism and causes unwanted weight loss and irregular heart rhythms.
  • Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include: Unintentional weight loss, rapid or irregular heart rhythm, unexplained increase in appetite, irritability and anxiety, irregular heartbeat.

Did you know thyroid disease affects nearly 20 million people in the United States? Even more surprising, many of those with thyroid disease don’t even know they have it. Your thyroid has a profound effect on regulating everything from your body’s temperature, heart rate, to your metabolism, so getting tested for thyroid disease is very important.

There are several different types of thyroid dysfunction, but the two most common ones are hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. In this article, we’ll cover the differences between hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism, common symptoms, and where you can get a TSH blood test to check for both.

What is TSH?

Before we jump into these two conditions, it’s important to understand the hormone that stimulates the thyroid - the Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). Also known as thyrotropin, TSH is a substance produced in the pituitary gland. It regulates the hormones made by your thyroid gland. And these thyroid hormones affect just about every gland in your body.

Not only can thyroid hormones slow down or speed up your heart rate, but they also control the rate at which you burn calories. When your thyroid is not functioning properly, it can have a serious impact on your body, health, and overall well-being.

Your doctor will order a TSH test to check your thyrotropin levels if you are experiencing symptoms of a hormone imbalance. A TSH test will be able to identify if you have hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism.

What is hypothyroidism?

If your thyroid gland produces too little thyroxine, this can cause hypothyroidism. This condition slows down your metabolism causing unwanted weight gain, fatigue, and sensitivity to cold temperatures.

Hypothyroidism is common, and affects about 4.6% of the U.S. population. Like any medical condition, there are several causes and symptoms to look for to determine if you have hypothyroidism.

Common causes of hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid)

  • Autoimmune disease (primary hypothyroidism)
  • Radiation treatment
  • Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (inflammation and thyroid nodules)
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Too little iodine
  • Goiter

One of the most common causes of hypothyroidism is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. This condition causes your body to attack its own immune system. Over time, this attack causes the thyroid to stop producing hormones which leads to hypothyroidism. Typical of many autoimmune diseases, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis occurs more frequently in women than men.

Symptoms of hypothyroidism

  • Unintentional weight gain
  • Fatigue
  • Dry skin
  • Constipation
  • Unusual sensitivity to cold
  • Muscle weakness
  • Puffy face

Treatment options for hypothyroidism

There are several treatment options available for hypothyroidism. One of the most frequently used treatments is daily hormone replacement tablets called levothyroxine.

Levothyroxine helps treat hypothyroidism by replacing the thyroxine hormone, the hormone that your thyroid does not produce enough of.

It’s important when starting levothyroxine that you receive regular blood tests until the correct dose is reached. Your doctor will work with you to ensure this happens.

What is hyperthyroidism?

If you have elevated TSH or a low TSH value, your thyroid gland may be producing too much of the hormone thyroxine. This can cause hyperthyroidism. This condition speeds up your metabolism and causes unwanted weight loss and irregular heart rhythms.

Common causes of hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid)

  • Graves’ disease (the most common cause)
  • Thyroiditis (antibodies mistakenly target components of the thyroid gland)
  • Too much iodine
  • Goiter
  • Benign pituitary tumor

Symptoms of hyperthyroidism

  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Rapid or irregular heart rhythm
  • Unexplained increase in appetite
  • Irritability and anxiety
  • Irregular heartbeat

Treatment options for hyperthyroidism

There are several treatments available for hyperthyroidism. The main treatments are:

  • Medicine
  • Radioactive iodine treatment
  • Surgery

Surgery, or thyroidectomy, involves removing most of the thyroid gland. However, there are risks, including damage to the vocal cords and parathyroid glands. Additionally, you’ll also require lifelong treatment with levothyroxine to supply your body with the normal amount of thyroid hormone.

How to get tested for hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism

One of the most common ways to identify hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism is with a TSH blood test. This test measures the amount of TSH hormone in your bloodstream and can identify whether your levels are too high or too low.

If your doctor recommends you take a TSH blood test, you can receive one at the doctor’s office, any lab testing facilities near you, or by scheduling an appointment with Getlabs and having a phlebotomist visit you in the comfort of your home.

Get At-Home TSH Tests with Getlabs.

If your doctor has recommended you take a TSH test because you may have hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, Getlabs can help you make it happen.

All you need to do is call to book a home visit and one of our local specialists will make a visit to your home. Your sample will be collected professionally and efficiently while you relax, and we will make sure it gets to the lab for testing. You can save time and rest assured that your samples will arrive at the right place on time.

All you do next is wait for your results.

Book an Appointment

Getlabs delivers healthcare to you. Our specialists come to you to collect your labs and deliver them to Labcorp and Quest for testing. We’re available same-day, nationwide.

related articles
October 12, 2022
Diabetes: The Different Types & Blood Tests for Diagnosis
read more
October 5, 2022
5 Ways to Lower Cortisol Levels
read more
September 12, 2022
One-Hour Glucose Test - What It Is and Where to Get One
read more
September 1, 2022
Cortisol Blood Test - What You Should Know
read more
August 3, 2022
Fertility Facts: How Many Eggs Does a Woman Have?
read more
July 27, 2022
Can Allergies Cause a Fever? - Here’s What You Should Know
read more
July 18, 2022
Hyperthyroidism vs Hypothyroidism: How to Tell the Difference
read more
July 18, 2022
STI vs STD: What’s the Difference?
read more
July 18, 2022
The Best At-home Chlamydia Test - What You Need to Know
read more
July 18, 2022
The Best At-home Herpes Test - Everything You Need to Know
read more
July 18, 2022
The Best At-home Cholesterol Test - Test Kit or Blood Test?
read more
July 18, 2022
How to Get An At-home Testosterone Test
read more