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Hyperactive Versus Hypoactive Thyroid Disease and Internal Medicine Care
Individuals experiencing chronic fatigue, dry or sensitive skin, changes in heart rate and intolerance to cold should seek evaluation from an internal medicine physician. These symptoms may point to thyroid issues, which could cause serious complications if left untreated. A diseased thyroid may be unable to function properly and could result in unhealthy hormone levels throughout the body. While there are many forms of thyroid disease, the most common types are hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid, and hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid.
Hyperactive Thyroid Disease
A hyperactive thyroid produces and releases a higher than normal level of hormones in the body. This results in a wide number and variety of unfavorable side effects in the patient.
In addition to fatigue, dry skin and sensitivity to cold temperatures, those with a hyperactive thyroid may also experience the following symptoms:
- Brittle or breaking hair and nails
- Changes in mood, including irritability
- Difficulty sleeping
- Anxiety or nervousness
- Sudden or unexplained weight loss
- A faster heartrate
- Weak muscles or shaking
An individual experiencing these symptoms on a somewhat recurrent basis without any other underlying cause may be suffering from hyperthyroidism. In this situation, seeking prompt evaluation and treatment from a doctor of internal medicine is recommended.
Diagnosis procedure and treatment options
When a physician suspects hyperactive thyroid disease in a patient, a physical exam is performed and blood tests are conducted to check thyroid hormone levels. A dose of radioactive iodine may be given, either orally or through injection. This determines if the thyroid is taking in large amounts of iodine and therefore producing hormones in excessive amounts. Many patients experience relief from using antithyroid medications like methimazole. If the case of hyperthyroidism is extreme, surgery or radiation may be required to treat or remove the dysfunctional gland.
Hypoactive Thyroid Disease
Those suffering from hypothyroidism have lower levels of thyroid hormone in the body. While many of the symptoms of hypoactive thyroid disease are similar to hyperthyroidism, some are the exact opposite.
Unlike hyperthyroidism sufferers, those with a hypoactive thyroid may also experience issues such as new or frequent constipation and sudden or unexplained weight gain. They may have changes in or difficulty with memory and trouble with depression as well as a slower heartrate.
Diagnosis procedure and treatment options
As with hyperthyroidism, a doctor of internal medicine can perform an external examination of the body and order blood work to diagnose hypoactive thyroid disease. In most cases, the patient will be prescribed thyroid hormone supplement medication to alleviate symptoms and restore healthy hormone levels. For both hyperactive and hypoactive thyroid patients, physicians may recommend lifestyle and diet changes or natural supplements that can also help regulate thyroid function.
While some symptoms of both overactive and underactive thyroid may appear to be trivial, it is important for patients to be aware of long-term or recurrent changes in their bodies. Thyroid problems can lead to complications and worsening symptoms if left untreated. Individuals experiencing any of the signs of thyroid disease should seek prompt evaluation and treatment from a physician of internal medicine.
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