Hormones are the chemical messengers that are vital for carrying out various vital processes and functions of the body and are secreted directly into the blood by glands of the body. There are several hormones present in the body (some only in males, some only in females, while the majority are present in both) carrying and regulating several functions, such as the insulin, testosterone, cortisol, estrogen, serotonin, progesterone, adrenaline, growth hormone, prolactin, and the most important—the thyroid hormone.
The thyroid is a small gland in the shape of a butterfly present at the base of the neck, just below the Adam’s apple.
The thyroid gland helps with various functions of the body such as growth, metabolism, as well as development of the body. By releasing the thyroid hormone constantly, it regulates a number of bodily functions. There are two thyroid hormones, namely thyroxine or T3 and triiodothyronine or T4, and they are secreted by glands using iodine from the food consumed. These hormones help with digestion and other functions that regulate the body.
Thyroid disease is when there is a problem in the secretion of these hormones that can result in either of the two types of thyroid diseases—hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism. Several functions and aspects of the body are affected by either of the thyroid disorders, including usage of energy, management of weight, sleep pattern, and neurological function.
When the thyroid gland produces too much of the thyroxine hormone, the condition is known as hyperthyroidism. When suffering from hyperthyroidism, the body tends to lose weight rapidly as the metabolism accelerates and the heartbeat also accelerates and becomes irregular. The thyroid usually produces an adequate amount of hormones, but when suffering from hyperthyroidism, the body overproduces the T4 hormone. And this could be owing to several reasons, such as Graves’ disease, thyroiditis, and Plummer’s disease.
The symptoms in hyperthyroidism, which can distinguish the two types of thyroid disease, include:
- Sudden weight loss and inability to gain weight
- Panic attacks
- Irregular menstruation
- Fluctuations in energy levels
- Excessive sweating
- Palpitations, etc.
This is the second type of thyroid disease where the gland is an underactive thyroid and produces a lesser quantity of thyroid hormone, that is the T3 and T4, thus slowing down the body functions, especially metabolism, which is not easy to notice in the initial stages of the disease.
The cause of hypothyroidism is chiefly autoimmune disease or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, over-reaction to thyroid surgery, radiation, medication, pregnancy, pituitary disorder, congenital disease, and iodine deficiency—all of the conditions in which the thyroid gland fails to produce sufficient triiodothyronine or T3 and thyroxine or T4 hormones.
The symptoms of hypothyroidism, which help to distinguish it from hyperthyroidism, include:
- Weight gain and difficulty in losing weight
- Weakness and muscle pain
- Low libido and infertility
- Thinning hair
- Inability to think clearly
- Dry skin and puffy face
- Decreased sweating
The two types of thyroid diseases can be distinguished by the entirely opposite symptoms observed with each.