Major part of current generation is having substandard health conditions. The reason includes unhealthy lifestyle, poor health maintenance and inactivity. A staggering number of people are affected by thyroid related disorders, out of which women constitute larger population. In a majority of the cases, people are not aware of the fact that they are suffering from thyroid. Also, not many are aware that heart related problems, high cholesterol, weight gain or loss, hair loss, memory problems, irregular periods, infertility and abortions (miscarriages) and many other health issues are the result of thyroid problems.
What Is Thyroid?
Thyroid is a gland located in front of your neck, which produces thyroid hormones which manages the whole metabolism level of your body.
The problem occurs when the hormones that is being stored varies. If there is over activity more hormones are being secreted. Then, it could lead to hyperthyroidism. While, less hormone secretion results in hypothyroidism.
Thyroid hormone act as catalyst in whole body metabolism. If the secretion is less, it slows down body metabolism and in case if it is excess, it increases the metabolic problem.
What Is The Effect Of Hyperthyroidism And Hypothyroidism?
Though both these affect thyroid gland, they may have varying effects on you. Hyperthyroidism can make you lose weight, suffer from lack of sleep and feel tremors, nervous and vexed. Hypothyroidism could cause more serious problems like high rate of cholesterol, weight gain, fatigue, memory problems and slower heart rate.
How is it caused?
Thyroid disease is usually caused when body produces abnormal proteins called Antibodies. These antibodies interact with the Thyroid and make it either overactive or underactive depending on the type of antibody. When Thyroid gland produces hormones more than required or less than required, it effects on your whole body. In other cases, nodules in thyroid, certain medications like Amiodarone, radiation and lack of iodine
The common cause of hypothyroidism is hashimoto’s thyroiditis, a condition where body makes antibodies which destroys part of thyroid gland. Whereas, Hyperthyroidism is caused by Grave’s disease which makes thyroid gland produce too much hormone, also caused by a different thyroid antibody. Sometimes, few are born with Hypothyroidism, which is called Congenital Hypothyroidism. Cancer is also one of the causes of thyroid.
Who Should Be On The Lookout?
Thyroid problems are commonly found in all. However, women are more vulnerable to hormonal changes in their body than men.
Symptoms and Characteristics
Irregular heartbeat, disturbed sleep, hair loss, nervousness, weight loss, prominent eyes, weakness and restlessness.
Weight gain, irregular periods, hair loss, dry skin, tiredness, sleepiness, reduced memory, puffy eyelids, high cholesterol.
Are Thyroid Problems Curable?
Thyroid problems are curable. Hyperthyroidism (overactive) can be treated by tablets, radioiodine and thyroid surgery. In case of thyroid cancer, removal of thyroid becomes necessary.
Keeping It At Bay
Prevention is always better than cure. Adequate iodine intake is essential and thankfully most of the common salt producers add iodine to the salt which will help prevent iodine deficiency.
One may also keep a control over their Thyroid by maintaining a proper diet :
For hypothyroidism while food rich in iodine is recommended. Food rich in vitamin C such as tomatoes, cherries squash and vitamin B like whole grains, fresh vegetables, beans, nuts, skimmed dairy products, along with omega 3 products like fish and eggs should also be consumed. You may prepare your food in olive oil and may consume dry fruits such as apricots and walnuts as your evening snack.
Food Products That Should Be Avoided:
Soy products, red meat, heavy cream, excess butter along with raw foods like cabbage, cauliflower, peaches, radishes and spinach is not generally recommended.
Exercising or at least a 30 min walk everyday increases the metabolism of the body and also burns out the extra calories, keeping you energized. Exercise increases blood flow in the muscles and stimulates the thyroid hormone.
With proper care and little precaution, thyroid can be managed easily. It is necessary to drink lots of water and at least a glass of green tea every day in order to maintain your body weight.
By Dr Anantha Padmanabha, MBBS, MD is a Consultant- Internal Medicine, Fortis Hospitals, Bangalore