According to an estimate, India has higher thyroid deficiency cases than any other country. Thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that lies below the Adam's apple, low on the neck, along the front of the windpipe. Thyroid has two side lobes which are connected by a bridge (isthmus) in the middle.

Thyroid releases hormones - Thyroxine (T4) and Triiodothyronine (T3). These hormones regulate body's temperature, metabolism and heart rate. In simpler terms, the Thyroid gland affects almost all the metabolic processes in our body by controlling the release of the hormones, T3 and T4. The amount of thyroid hormones secreted is in turn controlled by thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) - which is released from the pituitary gland in our brain.

The abnormal reproduction of thyroid hormones is the most common Thyroid problem. Underactive Thyroid gland (production of insufficient hormones) and Overactive Thyroid gland (production of excess hormones) are known as Hypothyroidism and Hyperthyroidism, respectively.

 

Causes of Hypothyroidism

A number of factors could cause Hypothyroidism. Thyroid nodules, thyroiditis, congenital hypothyroidism, surgical removal of part or all of the thyroid, radiation treatment of the thyroid, and excessive usage of some medicines are known to elevate risks of developing Hypothyroidism. One of the most common causes however is an autoimmune disorder called Hashimoto's disease.

Typical symptoms and complexities include:

  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Puffy face
  • Cold intolerance
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Constipation
  • Dry skin
  • Dry, thinning hair
  • Decreased sweating
  • Heavy or irregular menstrual periods and fertility problems
  • Depression
  • Slowed heart rate

Causes of Hyperthyroidism

An autoimmune disorder known as Graves’ disease is the leading cause of Hyperthyroidism. Some of the other causes include - thyroid nodules, thyroiditis, Pituitary gland malfunctions, consuming too much iodine, and taking too much synthetic thyroid hormone. Inflammation of the thyroid gland, which causes it to leak excess hormones may also result in temporary Hyperthyroidism.

Typical symptoms and complexities include:

  • Being nervous or irritable
  • Mood swings
  • Fatigue or muscle weakness
  • Heat intolerance
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Hand tremors
  • Rapid and irregular heartbeat
  • Frequent bowel movements or diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Goiter

Diagnosis

Your doctor will analyse family history followed by clinical examination and laboratory tests to confirm thyroid abnormalities. Tests include TSH, and functional stimulation test is used to assess the efficiency of pituitary and thyroid glands. Ultrasounds and nuclear thyroid scans may be used if needed. Women, people with other thyroid problems, and those above 60 are more prone to Hypo and Hyperthyroidism.

Treatment and Prevention

One of the easiest and most recommended way manage Thyroid and prevent its anomalous functioning is – Iodine intake. Consumption of iodine salt is strongly recommended. There are several medicines commonly used for effective management of Thyroid, and your Doctor will prescribe what is the best for your condition.

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