From symptoms to treatment, everything you need to know about thyroid problems



For those who are not on treatment, the thyroid function test (TSH, T4 and T3) can be done at any time of the day without fasting, says Dr. G Vignes.

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland, a small organ, located at the front of the neck. (Source: Getty / Thinkstock)

If you’ve experienced recent weight gain, prolonged fatigue, a cold, dry skin, constipation, or poor memory and concentration, have your thyroid function checked, suggests Dr. G Vignesh MD, DM, consulting endocrinologist. and diabetologist, Center for Endocrinology and Diabetes Dr Vignesh, Trichy.

What is the thyroid?

The thyroid, a butterfly-shaped endocrine gland located in front of the neck, influences various metabolic (functional) processes in our body by secreting the thyroid hormone called thyroxine.

Common thyroid problems

These include underproduction of thyroid hormones (hypothyroidism), overproduction or secretion of thyroid hormones (thyrotoxicosis), swelling of the thyroid (goiter), thyroid tumors, and thyroid cancer. The most common thyroid disorders (hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism) are caused by an abnormal immune response of the body against tissues normally present in the body (autoimmunity).

Symptoms

Recent weight gain, prolonged fatigue, feeling cold, dry skin, constipation, or poor memory and concentration are symptoms of hypothyroidism. Additionally, women may have menstrual irregularities (excessive menstrual bleeding) and subfertility, and children may have poor growth and delayed puberty.

Overproduction of thyroid hormones (hyperthyroidism) can cause symptoms of sudden weight loss, tremors, anxiety, nervousness, palpitations, excessive sweating, increased bowel frequency, and decreased period bleeding.

For those not on treatment, the thyroid function test (TSH, T4, and T3) can be done any time of the day without fasting, Dr Vignesh said.

It is possible to tell your doctor that you have had period irregularities. They may wish to perform certain tests such as blood counts to check for anemia, possible pregnancy or a thyroid disorder, experts say. (Source: Getty Images / Thinkstock)

Treatment of hypothyroidism – how long?

Almost all patients with hypothyroidism may need to continue taking thyroxine (medicine) for a long time. Thyroid function should be monitored every six to 12 months or more frequently, if necessary, as advised by your doctor. The thyroid tablet prescribed for hypothyroidism is nothing other than the natural thyroid hormone thyroxine, which is normally produced by the thyroid gland. So, long-term consumption of thyroxine tablets in the correct dosage with periodic monitoring will not cause any side effects.

Treatment of overproduction of thyroid hormones (hyperthyroidism)

To begin with, all patients with hyperthyroidism will need medical treatment (anti-thyroid drugs) to control the overproduction of hormones. Up to 40 percent of patients can be completely cured with just one medical treatment over a period of 18 to 24 months. Patients not cured with medical treatment will either require definitive treatment – radioactive iodine ablation or surgery, depending on the advice of your attending physician, Dr Vignesh said.

Iodine and thyroid hormone

Iodine is essential for the normal production of thyroid hormones. A deficiency of iodine in the diet can lead to underproduction of thyroid hormones and swelling of the thyroid gland known as goiter. It is therefore important to consume iodized salt. In terms of thyroid function, there is no additional benefit from consuming Himalayan rock salt (pink salt) over commonly available iodized salt, Dr Vignesh said.

Diet in thyroid disorders

Thyroid disorder is not a disease related to lifestyle, and lifestyle modification like diet, exercise and yoga etc. will not help manage this condition. Thyroid patients can eat a normal diet. As previously thought, no need to restrict cabbage or cauliflower or non-vegetarian foods. No need to consume additional dietary supplements or nutraceuticals to treat thyroid disorders.

Thyroid and pregnancy

Maternal thyroxine is essential for fetal brain development, especially during the first three months. Patients with hypothyroidism should continue treatment with thyroxine throughout pregnancy. During pregnancy, there will be an increased demand for thyroid hormones and the dose of thyroxine is usually increased during pregnancy based on the thyroid function test. If pregnancy is confirmed, thyroid patients should see their treating endocrinologist as soon as possible for evaluation and modification of treatment, Dr Vignesh said.

Common myths about thyroid disorders in humans

* Patients with thyroid (hypothyroidism) cannot lose weight and will remain obese for life even with proper treatment with thyroxine.
* Thyroid problems are always hereditary.
* All thyroid swelling (goiter) should be operated on (regardless of size and histology).
* Long-term consumption of thyroid tablets (thyroxine) may affect internal organs like kidneys, heart, liver, etc.
* Diet modification, yoga and exercise can cure thyroid disorders.

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?? The above article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding your health or any medical condition.

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