Your thyroid gland is like an executive that ensures that your body works at its peak performance. It regulates the release of the thyroxine hormone that runs the body’s overall metabolism and growth. But when your thyroid is out of balance, it can produce annoying symptoms of hypothyroidism (not enough hormone) or hyperthyroidism (too much hormone) and even life-threatening complications if left untreated.
While estimates vary, about 42 million people in India suffer from various kinds of thyroid disorders which are more common in urban women than men. Hypothyroidism is a particular problem as it tends to worsen over the years and affects 1 in 10 adults in the country.
Treatment is usually available for almost all thyroid disorders, though an early diagnosis offers the best results.
Symptoms of Thyroid disorder
Both overactive and underactive thyroid hormone production has different effects on an individual.
When a person has an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism), the condition may cause:
On the other hand, having an underactive thyroid ( hypothyroidism ) slows down the body’s metabolism leading to:
Causes of Thyroid disorders
Thyroid failure can be caused by several conditions. Those that cause hyperthyroidism include:
- Graves’ disease or toxic goiter
- Overmedication of thyroid hormone
- Pituitary gland tumor
- Overactive thyroid nodules ( causes multinodular goiter)
- Inflammation of the thyroid(thyroiditis)
- Excessive iodine intake
Whereas the reasons for your increased risk of hypothyroidism are:
- Thyroid gland inflammation
- Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (an autoimmune condition)
- Hormonal changes after childbirth
- Iodine deficiency
- Radiation treatment of upper neck and chest area
- Family history
- Age above 50
- Type -1 diabetes or arthritis
- Thyroid surgery
Diagnosis and Treatment
Doctors sometimes struggle to diagnose thyroid disorders since their symptoms overlap with many other conditions. But to find out what has caused your thyroid issues, your doctor will conduct a physical exam, blood tests, and an ultrasound using radioactive iodine.
Your treatment plan will focus on regulating your thyroid hormone levels. Thus, before deciding which treatment might work for you, your age, health and disease status are usually assessed.
If you’re diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, they may prescribe:
- Anti-thyroid medication
- Radioactive iodine therapy
- Beta-blockers ( to control your heart rate and anxiety)
- Thyroid gland removal surgery
And, if with hypothyroidism:
- Thyroid replacement medicines like thyroxine sodium tablets
Furthermore, remember that treatment given for hypothyroidism is usually lifelong and cannot be replaced by any lifestyle change, diet, or alternative therapy and must also be continued throughout pregnancy. So, try to stick to the doctor’s advice as it is the only way to live a normal and healthy life.
- Bagcchi, S. (2014). Hypothyroidism in India: More to be done. The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, 2(10), 778. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2213-8587(14)70208-6
- Ganie, M. A., Charoo, B. A., Sahar, T., Bhat, M. H., Ali, S. A., Niyaz, M., Sidana, S., & Yaseen, A. (2020). Thyroid Function, Urinary Iodine, and Thyroid Antibody Status Among the Tribal Population of Kashmir Valley: Data From Endemic Zone of a Sub-Himalayan Region. Frontiers in Public Health, 8. https://www.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpubh.2020.555840
- Thyroid Gland Problems: Common Disorders, Types, Symptoms. (2022, May 3). Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/common-thyroid-disorders
- Thyroid Disease: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Testing & Treatment. (n.d.). Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved May 21, 2022, from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/8541-thyroid-disease
- Vaidya, B., Kendall-Taylor, P., & Pearce, S. H. S. (2002). The Genetics of Autoimmune Thyroid Disease. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 87(12), 5385–5397. https://doi.org/10.1210/jc.2002-020492
- Davies, T. F., Latif, R., & Yin, X. (2012). New Genetic Insights from Autoimmune Thyroid Disease. Journal of Thyroid Research, 2012, e623852. https://doi.org/10.1155/2012/623852
- Panicker, V. (2011). Genetics of Thyroid Function and Disease. The Clinical Biochemist Reviews, 32(4), 165.
- TSHR gene: MedlinePlus Genetics. Retrieved May 20, 2022, from https://medlineplus.gov/genetics/gene/tshr/
- Hypothyroidism Panel | The University of Chicago Genetic Services. Retrieved May 21, 2022, from>https://dnatesting.uchicago.edu/tests/hypothyroidism-panel