Health News

Hypothyroidism vs Hyperthyroidism

by Columbia Surgery on April 15, 2014

Hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism are two of the most common thyroid disorders, and though their names sound almost identical, the disorders themselves are very different. The easiest way to remember the difference is to recall that “hyper” means too much, like when they say someone is hyperactive, it means they have too much energy.

The thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland located in the neck.

The thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland located in your neck just below the Adam’s apple. It’s part of the endocrine system and its primary function is to secrete a hormone that regulates your body’s growth and metabolism.

Hypothyroidism is when your thyroid isn’t producing enough hormones. Symptoms vary from person to person, but often include fatigue, increased sensitivity to cold, constipation, unexplained weight gain and a “puffy” face. If left untreated, hypothyroidism can cause obesity, joint pain, infertility and heart disease. It’s important to note that while these symptoms may be related to hypothyroidism, they may also be caused by other problems.  The best way to make a diagnosis of hypothyroidism is to have a simple blood test. Fortunately, treatment of hypothyroidism with synthetic thyroid hormone is usually simple, safe and effective.

Hyperthyroidism, conversely, is when your thyroid is over-producing hormones. Symptoms often include sudden weight loss despite a strong appetite, rapid or irregular heartbeat, increased appetite, and nervousness, just to name a few. You might notice that these symptoms are very similar to the symptoms of a number of other health problems, and indeed, hyperthyroidism can be difficult to diagnose at first. However, once properly diagnosed, most people respond well to hyperthyroidism treatments, which can include anti-thyroid medication, surgery, or small amounts of radioactive iodine.

Hopefully this helps clear up any confusion you had about these two common thyroid disorders. For more information on the thyroid and its disorders, visit

Links for further reading:
Columbia University’s Dr. James Lee on how to test your thyroid [VIDEO LINK]

New York Thyroid Center Establishes Unique Thyroid Biopsy Clinic

Thyroid Cancer: My Story


Hernias: What You Need to Know

by Columbia Surgery on April 15, 2014

Hernia (1)A hernia happens when part of an internal organ or tissue bulges through a weak area of muscle, usually in the abdomen. While there are several types of hernias, the most common kinds are inguinal (groin) and umbilical hernias. Inguinal hernias are more commonly found in men and often begin developing shortly before or after birth. Umbilical hernias form directly underneath the navel. Hernias that occur at the site of previous surgery are also quite common.

A hernia is usually fairly straightforward to diagnose, as a patient will often feel a bulge, accompanied by localized pain or discomfort, and may even feel something pushing through the hernia. Less commonly, one will only feel general pain or discomfort in the area without being able to localize its origin.

There are many treatments that offer temporary relief from the pain caused by a hernia, but surgery is the only cure. Depending on the type of hernia, doctors will recommend either open or laparoscopic surgical repair.

  • Open surgery – The surgeon makes an incision directly over the hernia, and mesh is usually used to close the hole formed by the hernia. This can often be done on an outpatient basis, under local anesthesia with sedation.
  • Laparoscopic surgery – The surgeon inserts small tubes called ports through the abdominal wall, and the surgical mesh is placed through these tubes. This approach can be used for both small and large abdominal wall hernias.

While some patients with hernias may put off treatment in order to avoid surgery, this may be delaying the inevitable. Hernias never get smaller and they never go away on their own. Ultimately, most patients will elect for surgery because the pain and discomfort becomes too much to bear.

So, if you experience any of the signs or symptoms of a hernia, be sure to schedule an appointment with an experienced physician to discuss your treatment options.

And check out our website for more information about hernias:


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