Thyroid Disorders : Symptoms and Prevention by Dr. Rajat Jhamb

Exclusive Interview of Dr. Rajat Jhamb, MBBS, MD, FICP, FACP, FIACM, Consultant Physician on Thyroid Dysfunctions”

Q1. Sir What is Thyroid ?

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in the front of the neck. It produces hormones T3 and T4 which controls various functions in our body. The production of the above hormones is regulated by brain through Hypothalamic thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) and pituitary thyrotropin (TSH) synthesis and secretion.

Thyroid hormones affect nearly every organ in the body. The thyroid function may decrease (Hypothyroidism) or Increase (Hyperthyroidism) due to many reasons and can lead to malfunctioning of many organ systems in the body.

 

Q2. What are the Symptoms of Thyroid Dysfunction ?

Hypothyroidism, or an under-active thyroid, accounts for most of all thyroid imbalances. The symptoms of hypothyroidism are usually vague. These include increase in body weight (as thyroid hormones are required for body metabolism), increased sleepiness, fatigability, dry skin, constipation, mood changes (depression), menstrual changes, cold skin, joint and muscle pains, hair fall, decreased heart rate, and swelling in the region of thyroid gland (Goitre).

On the contrary, when thyroid gland hyper functions it is known as Hyperthyroidism and the patients has symptoms related to a high metabolism such as weight loss, increased heart rate, tremors/shakiness, irritability, insomnia, hyperactivity, frequent bowel movements (diarrhoea), heat intolerance, increased sweating, menstrual abnormalities, thinning of hair and may also have Goitre.

However, not everyone will experience all of the symptoms listed above. These are all the possible symptoms, but symptoms vary based on how long your thyroid gland has been not functioning properly.

 

Q3. Sir what are the causes of Thyroid Dysfunction ?

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There are many causes of dysfunction of thyroid gland.  The most common in adults being the autoimmune destruction (Hashimotos disease) or stimulation (Graves disease) of the thyroid gland.

The other causes of Hypothyroidism include- Thyroidits (Inflammation of the thyroid gland), radiation therapy of the neck area, certain medicines, too little Iodine in your diet and disorders of the controlling centres’ in Brain like Pitutary and Hypothalmus.

The other causes of Hyperthyroidism include- Thyroiditis or inflammation of the thyroid, which causes T4 and T3 to leak out of the gland, tumors of the ovaries or testes, benign tumors of the thyroid or pituitary gland, large amounts of tetraiodothyronine taken through dietary supplements or medication.

 

Q4. Are there any tests required for Thyroid Disorders ?

If you think you have symptoms of a thyroid problem, ask your doctor if you should be tested. People with symptoms or risk factors may need tests more often. Thyroid disorders more frequently affect women. A family history raises your risk of either disorder.

The doctor may recommend testing of the Thyroid Hormones like (FT3, FT4), TSH and Antibody testing. Depending on your symptoms and initial investigations, you may require further tests like thyroid scan, Ultrasounds and other relevant investigations.

 

Q5. Please suggest some Prevention Tips for Thyroid Diseases.

While there’s definitely a genetic component to thyroid disease, it doesn’t exclude the fact that certain lifestyle habits can slow your thyroid disease and in some cases even cause damage to this sensitive (and complicated) organ.

  • To protect yourself, it is recommend requesting a thyroid shield (a lead apron that covers your neck area) whenever you have to undergo radiation, especially for children and young adults when the thyroid is still developing.
  • It’s well known that smoking is bad for your health, but for those with a predisposition for thyroid disease, it can put you at greater risk. Many components of smoke, ranging from thiocyanate to nicotine can lead to increased excretion of iodine and in turn, affect your thyroid’s performance.
  • Avoid starvation diets and be sure to take balanced diet including all nutrients, micronutrients and vitamins.
  • Long before your thyroid can be diagnosed you may have a warning sign: thyroid antibodies, which are prevalent in Hashimoto’s. If you have a family history of thyroid disease it’s wise to test for these. Their presence predicts a propensity towards hypothyroidism.

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