What is Thyroid Gland and How it Functions?
A small, butterfly-shaped gland residing at the forefront of your neck is known as the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is known to produce hormones (T3 and T4) that regulate the growth, metabolic rate, and development of the body.
How do Thyroid Hormones Affect the Body?
Produces and delivers T3 and T4 to manage metabolism, supports a healthy heart by keeping heart rate and BP at level, maintains normal body temperature, impacts bone growth, and cognitive functions, increases energy levels, supports weight management and promotes good memory.
Symptoms of Thyroid Disorders
Feeling overly exhausted, unexpected weight gain or loss, mood swings, depression, fast or irregular heartbeat, brittle, dry or itchy hair scalp, muscle cramps and soreness, overly hot or chilly feelings, focus or memory issues, and puffiness or swelling in the neck area (goitre).
Causes of Thyroid Disorders
Hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, family history or genetic mutations, exposure to radiation through environmental factors, medical treatments, medications like radiation therapy, hormonal imbalances like insulin, cortisol, or sex hormones, and abnormality in the pituitary gland.
How Common is it?
of the Indian population suffer from thyroid disorders
of women in India are found with thyroid disorders
of thyroid disorder cases in India are hypothyroidism
of thyroid disorder cases in India are of hyperthyroidism
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Dt. Zubeda Tumbi
Dietician and Nutritionist
(Weight Management, Diabetology, Thyroid Disorders and Nutrition - Dietician and Nutritionist)
BHSc, MHSc, NET- SET, Ph.D Grants from IDRC Canada and TATA Chemicals, 29+ Years of Experience
Dr. Brahmita Monga
(Dermatology, Venereology and Leprosy - Dermatologist)
MBBS, MD in Dermatology, Venereology and Leprosy, 10 Years of Experience
Dr. Ashitabh Tiwari
(Psychiatrist, Neuropsychiatrist and Addiction Psychiatrist - Psychiatrist)
M.B.B.S, M.D Psychiatry, 17+ Years of Experience
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(Psychiatry - Psychiatrist)
"Male sexual health encompasses various issues and challenges that are often accompanied by social stigmas, hindering individuals from seeking the assistance they need. I strongly encourage people to educate themselves about matters concerning intimacy and explore comprehensive treatment options that incorporate both medical and psychological approaches."
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Sexologist and Psychologist
(Sexology, Cognitive Behaviour Modifications, and Idiopathic Infertilty - Sexologist and Psychologist)
"Sexual health often receives insufficient attention in India, leading to the delayed seeking of medical assistance for intimacy and relationship concerns. It is crucial for individuals to proactively pursue treatment, as early intervention yields more effective and viable solutions."
Kudos to Priyanka, a 31-year-old woman who had been suffering from hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) for the past 2 years. Unhealthy eating habits such as eating junk and street foods were part of her daily routine, and she did not regulate her portions. When she began experiencing health symptoms such as fatigue, sluggishness, dry skin and irregular periods, she immediately contacted Nirvasa and filled out the self-assessment form. The doctor analysed her profile and diagnosed Hypothyroidism based on her medical history and lifestyle behaviours. The doctor recommended a weight-loss regimen tailored to her specific goals. Her thyroid is now under control after six months of treatment, and her weight has dropped to 58kg.
Meet Amandeep, a 40-year-old married man of 65 kg and 20.6 BMI. He was living his life just fine with a few health issues like less sweat, digestion issues and even a tingling and burning sensation. Because of the constant dropping in body weight, he consulted a certified doctor of Nirvasa after filling out a self-assessment form. The doctor diagnosed hyperthyroidism for which he suggested a simple weight management plan of nine months. He was advised to eat healthily and include calorie-dense and protein-rich foods in his daily diet. Apart from this, he was asked to commence resistance training workouts to keep his body active. As he followed the plan to the T, he is now 73 kg and his thyroid is totally under control.
Cheers to Neha, a 34-year-old married woman who was suffering from an underactive thyroid or Hypothyroidism for the past 1.5 years. She was never hyperactive and didn’t use to exercise much. The moment she started facing health issues like the sensation of tickling, tingling or burning without apparent cause and more, she reached out to Nirvasa and filled out the self-assessment form right away. On the basis of her medical history and lifestyle habits, the doctor evaluated her profile and diagnosed Hypothyroidism. She got suggested a weight management plan customised as per her goals by the doctor. Now, after completing six months of treatment, her thyroid is under control and her weight has come down to 68kg.
Can stress or anxiety trigger thyroid and worsen it?
Yes. Stress and anxiety may influence thyroid function. They can worsen the thyroid disorders, specially autoimmune conditions such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and Graves’ disease.
Can I still have thyroid symptoms even if my blood tests come back normal?
Certainly. Even after the blood test reports are normal, an individual may have symptoms linked with thyroid disorders. In such situations, opting for a consultation from a healthcare professional is important. They can assess your current condition, look into additional factors and conduct further treatments, if required, to offer a necessary solution.
Is thyroid hereditary?
Indeed. If any of your family members has been diagnosed with a thyroid issue, your risk of development such disorder can be higher. However, genetic predisposition does not guarantee the occurrence or elevation of a thyroid disorder.
Can thyroid disorders affect fertility and pregnancy?
Fertility and pregnancy can be affected if you are going through a thyroid disorder. If untreated, thyroid can be a sole reason for miscarriage, infertility, development complications in infants, and premature birth. It is mandatory for a women planning for pregnancy or already pregnant to closely monitor their thyroid function and manage it with regular check-ups and necessary medication.
Thyroid: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment
What is the Function of the Thyroid Gland?The thyroid gland is located in the front of your neck and is a small butterfly-shaped gland. It is further wrapped around your windpipe. Just like other glands, it is responsible for secreting hormones that are further used up for several functions. The thyroid gland is a crucial part of the human endocrine system (hormones are secreted in the bloodstream). The thyroid gland is majorly responsible for maintaining the metabolism inside the body and therefore, it controls and regulates the amount of energy being utilised by every body part. Furthermore, it is responsible for growth and development as it plays an important role in muscle function, the working of the heart, digestion, and skeletal and brain development. The thyroid gland does that by using up iodine which is mostly present in the daily diet that we consume. Two major hormones secreted by the thyroid gland include:
- T3 i.e. Triiodothyronine- It comprises three molecules of iodine.
- T4 i.e. Thyroxine- It comprises four molecules of iodine.
What are Thyroid Diseases?The thyroid gland needs to secrete the right amount of hormones for the proper functioning of the body. However, the levels may fluctuate due to some underlying complication which further leads to several metabolic diseases. The thyroid gland is responsible for regulating your body’s metabolic processes. If the gland is producing more than the required hormone it leads to excess usage of energy causing hyperthyroidism. This can further lead to sudden weight loss and you may also observe a fast heartbeat. However, when the secretions of the gland are low, it leads to hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism can lead to excessive fatigue, weight gain, and slow heartbeat. Most of the time both of the complications are genetic and a parent can pass it to their offspring.
How Common is Thyroid?Thyroid is very common and almost 42 million Indian people suffer from the disease. Moreover, as much as 11.7 per cent of the total Indian women suffer from thyroid disease. Thyroid disease is quite common and can affect anyone regardless of gender and age group. However, females are more likely to suffer from thyroid than males due to the high risk of hormonal imbalances. You are more likely to develop the disease if you:
- Witness the disease in your family lines.
- Are already suffering from a metabolic disorder.
- Consume a high amount of iodine or do not consume iodine-rich foods at all.
- Have had thyroid-related disease in the past.
Symptoms of Thyroid DisorderA number of noticeable symptoms can be seen in a patient suffering from thyroid disorder. Since most of the symptoms resemble various other complications, thyroid diseases are further divided into two major categories: Hyperthyroidism can lead to the following noticeable symptoms:
- Experiencing anxiousness, and irritation.
- Unable to fall asleep
- Shedding pounds
- Having an enlarged thyroid gland
- Muscle weakness
- You may experience irregular menstrual cycles
- feeling heat-sensitive
- Irritated eyes
- Weight gain
- Heavy menstruation
- Changes in voice make it hoarse
Causes of ThyroidTwo major conditions are caused by the imbalance of thyroid secretion i.e. hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. Therefore the causes for both of them are segregated into two different parts. Complications that can cause hypothyroidism include: Iodine Deficiency: One of the most common problems causing hypothyroidism. The thyroid uses iodine to make hormones. Iodine deficiency can be caused by any underlying reason, majorly due to lack of iodine in the diet. It is observed that iodine deficiency also depends on a lack of iodine in soil or water. People living in hilly areas suffer from hypothyroidism more commonly due to a lack of iodine in their soil and water. Thyroiditis: The thyroid gland is swollen and inflamed in this syndrome. Your thyroid's ability to generate hormones can be reduced by thyroiditis. Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis: It is an autoimmune condition in which the body is unable to differentiate between self and non-self cells. Therefore, the body is unable to identify the thyroid hormone as self and therefore it starts generating antibodies to fight against it leading to cell damage and reduced production of thyroid hormone. Non-Functioning Thyroid Gland: The thyroid gland functions improperly from childbirth. The grown-up child may have physical and mental problems in the future if untreated. In the hospital, a screening blood test is suggested for all infants to check their thyroid function. Conditions Causing Hyperthyroidism: Graves’ Disease: This disease is caused by overactivity of the thyroid gland. In this condition, the thyroid gland overproduces the thyroid hormone leading to goitre or an enlarged thyroid gland. Thyroid Nodules: Nodules in the thyroid that are hyperactive might result in hyperthyroidism. A goitre with many nodules is referred to as a toxic multinodular thyroid nodule, whereas a single one is known as a toxic autonomously functioning thyroid nodule. Excess Iodine Consumption: Iodine is a mineral responsible for the production of thyroid hormone inside the body. In the presence of excessive iodine, the hormone is secreted continuously leading to hyperthyroidism. Excessive iodine can be present in your diet or medications that you might be taking. Thyroiditis: It can be asymptomatic or symptomatic. In this implication, the thyroid gland produces hormones that are already stored there. This leads to the overproduction of thyroid hormone.
Thyroid DiagnosisThyroid treatment is only possible after the thyroid has been diagnosed. However, it becomes difficult for a person to spot thyroid as the symptoms resonate with other diseases as well. Fortunately, there are tests available in the market that can ensure complete and accurate diagnosis. The tests majorly include: Blood Tests: It is the most common type of diagnostic test that most physicians suggest you undergo. This diagnosis works on the basis that hormones are travelling inside the bloodstream which includes thyroid hormones. It is the most sought-after method to check thyroid hormone imbalance inside your body. The physician will take a sample from the vein in your arm and will diagnose hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism. There are different components checked for different complications caused by an imbalance of thyroid hormone. Some specific components checked throughout the test include: Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH): This is the master hormone produced by the master gland pituitary. The pituitary gland regulates the production of thyroid hormone and therefore checking TSH in the blood component makes it easy to diagnose. Hypothyroidism: High TSH levels indicate hypothyroidism as it indicates that the T4 is not being used sufficiently and there is abundant T4 in the blood to be used. Therefore, the brain produces more TSH to use up the remaining T4, however, it is not being used due to some problem. Hyperthyroidism: Low TSH in the body indicates that there is abundant thyroid hormone in the body and can indicate hyperthyroidism. Therefore checking the TSH levels in the blood can determine if the person is suffering from thyroid disease or not. T3 Levels: This type of blood test is used to determine if the person is suffering from hyperthyroidism or not. Low T3 levels can indicate hypothyroidism whereas high levels of T3 indicate hyperthyroidism. However, this test is most commonly used for diagnosing hyperthyroidism where the T3 levels are mostly high as they are not being used up. T4 Levels: A physician can give you a thyroid prescription only after the correct diagnosis. T4 or thyroxine tests are conducted to diagnose hyperthyroidism (low levels of T4) or hypothyroidism (high levels of T4). These blood tests can give a clear idea if the patient is suffering from thyroid disease or not. However, there are components in the blood whose imbalance can indicate if the patient is affected by some specific disease. Such additional tests include: Antibodies Test: Antibody analysis can help diagnose various autoimmune diseases. There are some antibodies in the blood, whose elevated levels can indicate autoimmune thyroid disorder. Calcitonin: Levels of calcitonin can be checked if the patient is suspected of having medullary thyroid cancer. Thyroglobulin Test: the test implies patient diagnosis especially if the patient is suspected of thyroid inflammation and thyroid tumour. The rangers of different components of the blood can help in diagnosing the disease so that management can be done quickly. Your healthcare provider will help you understand and diagnose the problem.
UltrasoundUltrasound or imaging test is one such advanced and highly effective test amongst all existing ones. An imaging test gives a direct picture of the thyroid gland and it becomes easy to diagnose any abnormality by just looking at it. It can help in diagnosing the increased size of the thyroid gland, an overgrowing cell or the presence of nodules inside. Ultrasound involves exposing the patient to high-frequency sound waves that penetrate through the human skin and echoes are recorded. The echos are further transformed into visible images and videos that are sent for further examination by a specialist. Furthermore, there are several other imaging tests available for diagnosis, one of which is the X-ray imaging technique in which X-rays are projected on the patient to get a clear picture for diagnosis.
Physically Examining the Patient:An experienced or expert healthcare provider can straightaway conduct a diagnosis by touching and diagnosing the throat of the patient. The physician can determine abnormal growth of the thyroid gland. He can check the enlargement of the gland by just touching it. This may not give accurate results but can pave the way to diagnosis.
Thyroid TreatmentThe aim of thyroid treatment is to get the levels of the thyroid hormone back to normal. There are various lines of thyroid treatment depending on the severity of the disease. For patients suffering from hyperthyroidism (high levels of thyroid hormone), the following techniques can be considered as suggested by the physician: Anti-thyroid medications: Thyroid treatment can be done using antithyroid medications. They directly act on your thyroid gland to disable its ability to produce excessive thyroid hormone. Antihypertensive medications: Thyroid medicines are used to ease the symptoms of hyperthyroidism but they do not directly act on the thyroid gland and therefore, do not provide permanent treatment. Most commonly beta blockers are used as first-line treatment. Radioactive Iodine: The treatment includes a technique in which a radioactive form of iodine is taken and projected on the tumour cells of the thyroid gland. These radioactive elements expelled from the iodine element are used in severe cases of thyroid cancer where no other medication is working. Surgical procedures: If a patient is not able to seek treatment using thyroid pills then he/she is more likely given the last option of treatment. Thyroidectomy is a surgical procedure in which the thyroid gland is completely removed from the body. This is required when even after radioactive treatment the thyroid gland is not able to reduce the production of thyroid hormone. The only drawback of the treatment procedure is that your body will still need thyroid hormone and therefore, you will need hormone replacement therapy for your entire life. A thyroidectomy is the procedure to remove the thyroid. There are primarily two methods for doing this surgery:
- through a neck incision on the front.
- with a scar under your arm.
Prevention of Thyroid DiseaseThyroid disease can be triggered by any stimuli which can be environmental, behavioural or psychological. It is best to take precautions rather than seek thyroid treatment in later stages. You can consider taking the following precautionary steps:
- Quit smoking if you're a smoker. This reduces your risk of getting thyroid disease as well as a wide range of other health problems, including cardiovascular ones.
- Consume less soy. Although the popular component is not always harmful, it is debatable, especially when taking thyroid health into account.
- Consider shifting to supplemental selenium therapy. Selenium is a mineral that is present in some proteins and is essential for the health of your thyroid gland. You should already be taking enough selenium if your diet is good. To strengthen your immune system and lessen hypothyroidism symptoms, you may still want to increase your intake of selenium.
- To shield your thyroid gland from radiation exposure during X-rays and UV rays as it can trigger thyroid cells to become cancer cells.
- Visit your physician frequently. Regular examinations are beneficial for your thyroid health as well as your general wellness.