Know how thyroid affects your body
The thyroid gland is a very small gland, weighing less than one ounce and located in the front of the neck, just below the ‘Adam’s apple’. It is located there to absorb the iodine in the food consumed and convert it into thyroid hormones called Thyroxine (T4) and Triiodothyronine (T3). As these are the only cells in the body to absorb iodine, it helps regulate the body’s metabolism through the T3 and T4 that are released in the blood stream and are transported throughout the body where they control metabolism. Dr Pradeep Gadge, Diabetologist and Endocrinologist, Gadge Diabetes Centre, Mumbai, tells us about the different problems affecting the thyroid, and how they can be treated.
Common Thyroid Problems
Goiters: Are an enlargement of the thyroid gland. They are often removed for cosmetic reasons or, more commonly, because they compress other vital structures of the neck including the trachea and the esophagus making breathing and swallowing difficult. Sometimes, goiters grow into the chest where they can cause trouble as well.
Hyperthyroidism: Is excess production of the thyroid hormone. Basically, the thyroid gland produces a hormone called thyroxine, which is the body’s energy hormone. So a hyperthyroid patient experiences palpitations (fast heart beats), loose motions (increased gastrointestinal motility), increased metabolic rate (feels too hot), catabolism (weight loss) and irritability.
Hypothyroidism: Means too little thyroid hormone and the exact reverse happens here. The patient becomes slow, dull, forgetful, gains weight, feels cold all the time, feels depressed, experiences constipation, hairfall etc. Hypothyroidism can even be associated with pregnancy.
Thyroiditis: Is an inflammatory process affecting the thyroid gland. Thyroiditis can present with a number of symptoms such as fever, pain and subtle symptoms of hypo or hyperthyroidism.
Thyroid Cancer: Some thyroid cancer signs and symptoms include a hoarse voice, neck pain, and enlarged lymph nodes. Although as much as 75% of the population will have thyroid nodules, the vast majority are benign. Youngsters usually don’t have thyroid nodules, but they develop with age. Less than 1% of all
Hyperthyroidism is excess production of the thyroid hormone. A hyperthyroid patient experiences palpitations (fast heart beats), loose motions (increased gastrointestinal motility), increased metabolic rate (feels too hot), catabolism (weight loss) and irritability.
thyroid nodules are malignant (cancerous). So the focus is on determining the ones that have any reasonable chance of being cancerous. Few worrisome nodules will need to be operated upon with that portion of the thyroid removed.
Changes in menstrual cycle, aches and pains, poor concentration, fluid retention or the bloated sensation in the body, weight gain and weakness.
The current methods used for treating a hyperthyroid patient are radioactive iodine, anti-thyroid drugs or surgery. Surgery is the least common treatment selected for hyperthyroidism. A synthetic thyroid hormone is given for treatment of hypothyroidism. As thyroxine is the body’s natural hormone, it has no side effects provided it is given in appropriate doses. Most thyroid cancers are typically treated with the complete removal of the lobe of the thyroid that harbours the cancer, in addition to the removal of most or all of the other side. Usually thyroiditis is self-limiting. However, sometimes the patient
Include physical exercise as fluctuations in weight are very common among thyroid patients. Avoid goitrogenic foods like cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, soybeans, prawns and crabs.
needs steroids and symptomatic treatment.
If untreated, it can cause complications ranging from hair fall, mood fluctuations, irritability and heart problems like atrial fibrillation.
Diet & Lifestyle Modifications
Avoid goitrogenic foods like cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, soybeans, prawns and crabs. A high protein, low fat diet needs to be incorporated depending on the patient’s weight and clinical condition. Include physical exercise as fluctuations in weight are very common among thyroid patients. At least 45 minutes of exercise is recommended regularly. Yoga and meditation will help deal with stress and irritability.
Do not indulge in starvation diets and protect yourself from x-rays.
Drugs used for hyperthyroidism can cause side effects, if not monitored properly. They could range from drug-induced hypothyroidism to rashes to as dangerous as bone marrow problems. Medicines should be taken regularly and kept in a cool and dry place. AISHWARYA P VAIDYA
Educate yourself with knowledge on how your thyroid gland can affect your body…