Health Fo­cus

Know how thy­roid af­fects your body

Health & Nutrition - - CONTENTS -

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.

Other Symp­toms

Changes in men­strual cy­cle, aches and pains, poor con­cen­tra­tion, fluid re­ten­tion or the bloated sen­sa­tion in the body, weight gain and weak­ness.

Treat­ment

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.

Ram­i­fi­ca­tions

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.

Pre­ven­tion

Do not in­dulge in star­va­tion di­ets and pro­tect your­self from x-rays.

Note

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…

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