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What Your Doctor Doesn't Tell You About Hyperthyroid And Hypothyroid

Updated on August 12, 2016
Nell Rose profile image

When diagnosed with Thyroid Disease I discovered that local GPs knew nothing about it. This is my experience and what I have learned.

Thyroid hyperthyroid hypothyroid
Thyroid hyperthyroid hypothyroid

What and where is your thyroid?

A thyroid problem is one of those illnesses that hardly anybody thinks about until they find themselves suffering from it.

You never see it talked about on TV, and magazines never mention it. In fact, if you are anything like me, I only knew about thyroid problems when someone was talking about not being able to lose weight.

So, because of this explanation I presumed that it was a simple thing, easy to control and once the tablets had kicked it, forgotten about.

I couldn't have been more wrong. I discovered that suffering from an overactive thyroid was hell. And eventually when the doctors gave me tablets to control it, the side effects of the tablets, along with the too easy way of it becoming under active, was even worse.

Take it from me, being diagnosed with a thyroid problem is not easy. In fact, it can take over a year to get your body balanced and back to normal again, and even then it is something that you have to keep your eye on every day.

So what are the symptoms of an over active and under active thyroid?

An overactive thyroid can start to show up in quite a few ways. In fact you may feel really healthy as it can speed up your motor functions and make you rush around feeling full of energy. The trouble starts when you notice that you have lost a lot of weight, your eyes seem to be more staring, and your hands start to shake.

This is caused by the thyroid gland in your neck producing too much of the thyroid hormone. It is a bit like the fight and flight stimulation caused by stress. And the really bad thing about it, is that it can cause your heart to work too fast, pumping the blood around your system.

When I was diagnosed with Graves Disease, another word for Hyperthyroid, I was told in no uncertain terms to go home, sit down, and don’t move until the tablets that my doctor was going to give me had kicked in. Why? Because if I had an accident, and needed surgery, it could kill me! Not such and easy going illness, is it now?

Symptoms of Low Thyroid

  1. Sluggishness
  2. Weight gain
  3. Stomach problems
  4. Slow or stopped menstruation
  5. Depression ( A lot of depression is mis diagnosed, when really it is a thyroid problem)
  6. Slow thought process
  7. Can't focus properly with your eyes
  8. Dangerous to drive as your mental process doesn't work properly
  9. Panic attacks
  10. Poor sleep and nightmares
  11. Skin problems such as lack of elasticity.
  12. Very low thyroid can cause pockets of water to form on your face and body.

Symptoms of Over Active Thyroid

  1. Weight Loss
  2. Fast Heartbeat
  3. Shaking of the hands and poor elasticity of the skin on your hands and arms
  4. Out of breath
  5. Stomach problems
  6. Over active brain, can't sleep.
  7. Panic attacks.
  8. Goitre (Swelling in the neck)
  9. Very heavy menstruation
  10. Aching bones and muscles
  11. Bad eyesight such as dizzyness and after glow. Imagine a camera that has taken a picture of someone holding a torch. The glow from the torch spreads across the photo. This is similar to what happens when you look at something.
  12. Night sweats and sleep paralysis, very bad I might add.

Thyroid eye disease
Thyroid eye disease

Thyroid Eye Disease

Thyroid eye disease is another side effect. Your eyes will look puffy or strange, and your eyesight will start to suffer. You will also get watery eyes and pain. Not everybody will get this, but it is very common. Any thyroid problem is an auto immune disease. This means that your body is attacking itself. That's why its better to have a low thyroid than a high one.

Feel like you have been hit by a car
Feel like you have been hit by a car | Source

Diagnosis and Pain

When you have been diagnosed, there are a number of different options for you to take. Tablets, radioactive tablet, and surgery. All depending on how bad your symptoms are. Your Doctor will find the best one for you.

What the Doctors do not tell you.

Now we get to the part that is really important. And trust me when I say that I have tried and tested all these! Not deliberately you understand, but by way of pain, trial and error.

For a start, lets take a look at the tablets.

You may think that the Doctor will always give you the right medication. You have to remember that they probably have never had a thyroid problem so they are just doing it by the book.

But everybody is different. I was given a set of tablets called Carbamazole. To start with they were fine and my hyperthyroidism started to go down nicely. What I didn’t realise was the effect that they would have on me. I started to feel pain in my arms. In fact it got so bad that I couldn’t move them without yelling in agony.

Then it spread to my legs and back. The only way I can describe it is, imagine laying down on the road and letting a car run you over! Then being left to walk home. Yes, it was that bad. Every time I moved my arms, legs and back, it was excruciating. The strange, and very disturbing thing was, I called the doctor, and they gave me pain killers, not knowing why I was suffering like this.

I was admitted to hospital twice, and the doctor thought I had arthritis! In other words, nobody knew what was wrong. So I did the only thing that I could think off. I bought a book about my illness.

That was the best thing I could have done. It turned out that I was allergic to Carbamazole, and when I told the Doctor, he sat there, looked through his medical book and decided to change my tablets! I actually told him the ones that I wanted, and after that the pain went away!

Learn About The Disease

The second that you are diagnosed with Thyroid disease, make sure you get a good book about your illness.

Do not take it for granted that the doctor knows about thyroid illness. They may have training, but they do not know how it feels. Apart from that, a thyroid illness has many symptoms. Some very subtle, others more obvious.

A doctor will learn the basics, and know what to look out for, but everybody is different. Its one of those illnesses that has so many side effects and different aches and pains. Unless you suffer from it, you will not know. Its not something that can be learned.

I discovered that hyperthyroidism is a very different illness. I was literally in the dark, and the annoying thing about it was that the Doctors had no idea. You have to keep an eye on it yourself. Simple as that.

Take Charge

If you are told that you may have to have the radiation tablet, make sure that you ask as many questions as you need to know. Its your body. Don’t just go in there, take the tablet and go home. You choose. If you would rather carry on with the tablets, or have surgery, let them know. Taking a radioactive Iodine tablet can make some people sick, and you must keep away from babies and small children for at least two weeks. Saying that, its not strong enough to cause you any problems. It has been used for years. But you must be careful hugging people and staying near them for a few days.

That’s where the book comes in handy. The Internet is good for information, but the trouble is that you have to keep clicking on different sites to find exactly what info you are looking for. If you buy a book, then its there for you, all you have to do is flick through the chapters. Take this illness into your own hands. Its not only good for your health, but mentally you will feel a whole lot better if you know exactly how you are going to feel.


Radioactive Iodine Tablet
Radioactive Iodine Tablet
Mental Confusion caused by Hypothyroidism
Mental Confusion caused by Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroid can be frightening

On the other end of the scale, hypothyroidism is when you haven’t got enough hormone in your body. According to Doctors this is much easier to control and sort out than if its too high. that’s all very well, but once again, doctors do not know how you personally feel. A low thyroid can be a very scary thing.

Why? Because bluntly speaking, it can make you feel like an idiot. Harsh? Sorry but it’s the truth. A low thyroid is frightening because unless you have someone who knows how to recognise the state you are in, then basically you can go downhill fast. I don’t mean to frighten you, but it’s the truth.

Mental Confusion

According to the book that I read on the subject, a few years ago a young girl kept going to the doctor because she said she was ill. He diagnosed depression and gave her tablets. The situation got worse, but the doctor still said it was depression, and never looked for anything else. The young girl ended up in a coma and nearly died because the doctor had misdiagnosed her! True story!

Why did that happen? Easy, the symptoms are very similar to depression. And the worse thing about it is, when your thyroid hormone is too low, you cannot think! Your brain feels woolly and numb. Even looking at something will take you ages to figure out, purely because your mind is working too slowly. Your eyes see, but your mind does not connect.

How the hell are you going to look after yourself if the doctors misdiagnosis you?! Trust me on this, it happened to me!

The reason why it happened in my case was that the stupid doctors knew it was too high, so they gave me tablets, and the radiation tablet, and sent me home. Not one of them said come back in a month.

So, without thinking, I carried on taking them. My face filled with water pockets, I couldn’t recognise myself as it was swollen, and my mind felt as thought it was full of wool. Eventually, luckily for me, I looked in a mirror and realised that something was wrong. Just that one little voice in my head saved me.

I went back to the doctors and he said, your thyroid is dangerously low! And quickly changed my tablets! The stupid doctors, the specialist and all of them put together never ever said anything about this! The fact is, they didn’t know! They presumed that I would figure it out! How the hell could I figure it out when I couldn’t think?

So please, please get a book, read all about the symptoms, what happens when you are too high, check to make sure you are not to low and so on.

Do it before your mind decides to pack up on you. Trust me, nobody else will help.

And before you say, well, my friends will tell me. Or my partner will see.

NO! two points on this one.

First, friends are too polite to say, hey, you look ill, anorexic, shaky etc

And secondly, your partner will just not notice! True! Its such a subtle thing, its very hard to spot.

Did You Know?

There are many Celebs that suffer with Thyroid problems, these include:

Rod Stewart

Oprah Winfrey

Kelly Osbourne

Kim Cattrall

Linda Ronstadt

Missy Elliott

And Many More

Make A List And Stick It On The Wall

So to end, take note of the list below, and if you find yourself in this situation and have been diagnosed with Thyroid disease, make sure you;

  1. See a Doctor.
  2. Make sure you buy a book on subject.
  3. Change your tablets the second you feel ill or in pain.
  4. Keep nagging and phoning the specialist, he is the only one who can help. GPs are useless!
  5. Keep looking in the mirror. If your face gets skinny, fat or filled with watery sacks, get down the doctors fast.
  6. Check your hands for the shakes, its one of the best signs of over activity.
  7. Check your heartbeat sitting down, running, and then sitting again, to see if it beats too fast, or changes normally.
  8. If you suddenly find that you are staring into space a lot, or sitting around without thinking, take more thyroxin and get to the doctors, your thyroid is too low.
  9. If your eyes start to get wobbly vision, get checked out again, some of the symptoms can either be too high or too low, they do overlap. Symptoms can feel scarily similar, so you may not know if you are too high or too low. Do not diagnose yourself.


© 2012 Nell Rose


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    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 7 days ago from England

      Hi Malissa, it sounds like your thyroid has got dangerously low! the trouble with graves is that the symptoms seem to overlap, the eyes and seeing go funny when its too high, but the tiredness and feeling strange is classic low thyroid, you really need to keep up with your blood tests. being high or low can change so quickly! good luck, and get that blood test done.

    • Malissa Anderson 7 days ago

      Hi everyone, firstly I would like to thank you all for your stories, I was diagnosed at the age of 35 and was told hyperthyroid and graves 3 years on was told I had to have a full tbyroidectomy due to thyroid cancer. No I am sicker than ever my doctors have never seemed to get it right. I feel funny in the head and in the front between my eyes, my vission has been weird and eyes seem to water a lot and light hurts, by memory is very bad and some times get pain in my chest. I do not feel normal at, all and find myself tired but it seems like a weird tired( hard to explain ) no one seems to understand especially my doctors, but I am getting very bad. There are other symptoms as well but mainly the weird feeling in my head. Any help would be greatly appreciated thanks


    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 2 weeks ago from England

      Hi Trina, anything and everything! but because you are feeling probably still ill its best to eat healthy but top up in between with high calorie drinks that you can buy in the chemist, good luck! hope you feel better soon!

    • Trina wallace 2 weeks ago

      What foods can you eat to gain weight after starting the medication for hyperthyroidism?

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 6 weeks ago from England

      Thank you Honest Person, I hope you feel well soon. It took me quite a while too, just rest and recuperate, and thanks again.

    • Honest person 6 weeks ago

      I had radiation for severe hyperthyroidism. I did have a thyroid storm following treatment and lost 24 lbs in 22 days. You only have to be in isolation 3 days . It's not the end of the world. I will say it's been 11 months and I'm still not stable. I have headaches frequently, go days without sleep and then go days where I can't stay awake. It's a life long battle yes. But living is another way to look at. Do the treatment that's best for you . Not getting treated will make your life worse. This article is an opinion. Graves is not the same for everyone. You would never know I had it by looking at me. My eyes are normal and I'm the right weight for my height. You can't assume you will be 100% ever but you can't assume you will feel horrible all the time. Stay positive or you will never recover. Don't believe that you will have all the symptoms and problems that someone else has. Don't pity yourself over Graves disease we are living not dying.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 2 months ago from England

      Thank you Jeanne I am so glad you found it helpful. Its only when we live through something like this that we know what's going on and how much the doctors know. I have to admit I was shocked at the lack of knowledge. Good luck in the future, hope you are better soon.

    • Jeanne Garner 2 months ago

      Thanks so much!! I have learned a lot!

      Thank GOD for people like you!!

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 4 months ago from England

      Hi Desaray,don't worry too much, the name graves disease does sound scary doesn't it? but its literally just named after the guy who first got it. it just means that your thyroid can be a bit like a seesaw, goes up goes down etc. you just have to monitor it and make sure you take the right tablets. your body will take a while to settle but it will start to feel healthier after a few weeks. takes a while, but do not worry, and try to get enough rest if thats possible, you will feel tired, and then hyper, just try to balance yourself and drink lots of water, not caffeine and keep of mixing vitamins with your tablets okay? just make sure that you see your gp frequently to monitor your levels of thyroxine, good luck. :)

    • Desaray 4 months ago

      I just found out a month or so ago that I have hyperthyroid and possibly graves disease. I'm 29 and a mother of 2 little girls.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 8 months ago from England

      Hi Micah, sorry to hear you think you have thyroid problems. Yes if your thyroid is too high it will make you more active, but, and this is a big but, if it gets too high your body will start to shake and you could end up in hospital with serious side effects! this is serious stuff. if its too low you will start to feel 'fuzzy' slow and maybe put on weight. just get a blood test, it can be easy controlled with just a tablet a day! easy! the reason why I had to take the iodine was that I was so high that it was dangerous, get it checked out early and you will be fine, don't worry.

    • Micah 8 months ago

      Im a bit unsure if whether i would take the radio active iodine , because of the symptoms of hypothyroid , i would rather be active one than the slower one. And my body just feel normal about it. I am so afraid that after the r.a.i there are some changes in me. Im 20 and still studying what would happen if im a hypothyroid now ? Slow thinker ? I cant. I just cant. I've been crying thru nights thinking of this. Can you give me advise ? Im glad i found this site. Hope you will respond.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 12 months ago from England

      Thanks Larissa, yes it does doesn't it? luckily my thyroid seems under control now, and I hope yours is too, and thanks for reading, nell

    • Larissa Wilcox 12 months ago

      I have hyperthyroidism and possibly Graves' disease and I have the mental messed up stuff. So just keep in mind that just because you have hyper not hypo does not mean that isn't what's causing you to feel spaced out because it definitely will!

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 13 months ago from England

      Hi Cheryl, first of all, don't worry. Hyperthyroidism is pretty scary, but now they have found out that you are so high they will give you meds to sort it out. Its pretty easy, after a couple of days you will notice you're not shaking so much, and after about a week it will settle down. it does take time to get the meds just right, and it can be a bit of a seesaw time with them, too high, too low and so on, but you will soon get used to it and know your own body.

      Two things to watch out for. One, make sure you watch how low thyroid it goes, if it goes too low it can be dangerous, see above, and second, if you need to swallow a radioactive tablet don't worry, it doesn't hurt, but you will have to let someone have your children for a couple of weeks just to be careful, I know its scary, but don't worry, it will be fine, glad they found out through blood work, the worse is over. of course you may get thyroid eyes for a while, not nice, you will look a bit strange, but wearing dark glasses will help. okay? if you need more info, just come back, okay, good luck, nell

    • Cheryl 13 months ago

      Thank you for this. I was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism 4 days ago. I went to see a Dr because my heart was pounding out of my chest and I was shaking terribly. My husband who is an RN came with me. The Dr prescribed Xanax and wasn't going to do blood work. My husband pushed the blood work and I'm so glad he did. I'm only 29 and a mother of 2 small children. I'm very scared of what the future holds for me.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 17 months ago from England

      Thanks Linda, yes the docs never ever tell you anything about it! that's where books come in, its disgusting, thanks, nell

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 17 months ago from Orlando, FL

      Kudos to you, Nell for making others aware of this disorder. I hope your info helps many others.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 18 months ago from England

      Hi Colleen, that must have been awful being young and not understanding what was going on with your body because of this illness, thanks so much for coming back and I am glad it was helpful to you, nell

    • Colleen Diemer profile image

      Colleen Diemer 18 months ago from Florida

      Nell, It was a great pleasure. I wish everyone understood our struggle. You did an excellent job explaining it.Most of all the fact that no one talks about it and Dr.are incompetent in this field. Even the specialists.Maybe we can work to change that. You sure have already started and I commend you for it. I still have not told my story because of the shame attached to it. So much family trouble and going undiagnosed as well as misdiagnosed is an awful thing for a perfect young child with a bright beautiful mind.I know you understand.Reading your story I feel I have a friend for sure. Thank you for not giving up your fight and writing your article to help others. Colleen

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