Thyroid Disorders

Thyroid problems are more common in women than men and come with a bunch of complications that can cause endless worry. The weight gain, the irregular menstrual cycle, the stress and tiredness are just a few reasons why thyroid can be such a menace. However, keeping ourselves informed about the condition and taking precautionary measures can go a long way in helping us keep it in check. This article will provide you with some key information that will help you identify any potential problems and stop you from being in the risk category for thyroid. 


The Thyroid Gland

Your thyroid gland pumps the key hormones triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4), which are partially composed of iodine. It influences your heart rate, your menstrual cycle, metabolism rate, and hence weight, and can also cause osteoporosis and skin problems. Studies reveal that women are five to eight times as likely as men to have thyroid problems. 

Thyroid problems can manifest as hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. Hyperthyroidism is when the thyroid gland produces much more thyroid than required and hypothyroidism is when the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid. 

All this sounds terribly scary, but the good thing is that once diagnosed, most thyroid problems are very treatable. The doctor can identify the problem through a blood test that measures your level of thyroid-stimulating hormone or TSH. The TSH is released by the pituitary gland to stimulate the secretion of thyroid hormones T3 and T4. It is definitely recommended to take a test if you have a familial history of thyroid as studies suggest that thyroid disorders, along with auto-immune disorders run in the family

What Can You Do? 

1. Identify symptoms, if any

Some symptoms of thyroid include feeling cold, abnormal bowel function, changes in mood, changes in heart rate, fatigue, weight gain or loss, hair loss, and irregular menstrual cycle. You might have trouble concentrating or remembering things and also develop skin itch and related problems. While these might be due to completely different causes, make sure that you get it checked especially if you are genetically predisposed to thyroid problems. 

A blood test is critical in identifying a thyroid problem, so make sure that you explain all your symptoms clearly to your doctor to ensure that you are not misdiagnosed. The symptoms of thyroid might also be misleading and actually stem from a completely different cause. Dr. Melinda Ring of the Northwestern Medicine's Osher Centre for Integrative Medicine in Chicago says " that's why it's important for doctors to look at everything — test results, symptoms, and risk factors — in context rather than as stand-alone issues".

2. Regulate your diet

Hypothyroidism effectively reduces your body functions to a level of permanent fatigue. This can later translate into serious complications like high cholesterol and heart trouble. Hyperthyroidism can cause restlessness, lack of sleep and even tremors. One key step towards bettering yourself is a well-regulated diet. 

The first step to keeping one's thyroid gland healthy is to consume the right amount of iodine. Just half to three- fourth of a spoon of iodized salt gets you to the daily required intake of iodine, but you will have to watch your diet if you are on a low salt diet or gluten-free. In this scenario, eggs, seawater food, and dairy are excellent alternatives. Selenium is also known to be instrumental in the manufacturing of thyroid hormones, and selenium too is found in eggs and seafood. 

However, in the case of diagnosis, consumption of the mineral iodine cannot bring about any change. It is best advised that you and your doctor sit down to discuss what medication is best for you. Research also suggests that eating smaller and more frequent meals a day helps in controlling the condition. 


3. Thyroid disorders need to be addressed before and during pregnancy

Thyroid disorders can cause problems in your pregnancy.  Firstly, not addressing a thyroid problem can lead to irregular ovulation or no ovulation. Underlying thyroid problems might lead to a miscarriage too. 

The fetus is completely dependent on the mother for thyroid. Hence, cases of hypothyroidism put the baby at a higher risk of developing neurological or developmental problems. On the other hand, hyperthyroidism, which is excessive secretion of thyroid can result in an extremely premature delivery before 37 weeks. 


4. Medication and Treatment Helps

Considering that a thyroid issue is a hormonal one, it is very understandable that you might be worried about the ill effects of medication. However, research has consistently shown progress in treatment in most cases. 

While results cannot be seen immediately, the effects of the symptoms often start reducing after a month. However, one important thing to keep in mind throughout is to avoid any over the counter thyroid support pills or other supplements that are not prescribed by your doctor. According to a research done by Mayo Clinic, 9 out of 19 of these supplements have a much higher dosage of the synthetic thyroid hormone levothyroxine than prescribed by a doctor. 

Take a step towards a healthy you and get yourself screened today. Better late than never! 


Related blog: Obesity and its relation to Type 2 Diabetes

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