Tackling thyroid disorders

Tackling thyroid disorders

Thyroid-related disorders are becoming a common occurrence in women.

Do you feel tired very often or have you noticed some sudden weight gain? It is time you test your thyroid levels. Majority of the present generation is suffering from one lifestyle disorder or another. The reason includes unhealthy lifestyle, poor health management and inactivity. A staggering number of people are affected by thyroid-related disorders, out of which women form a major chunk. Many seem to be unaware of the fact that heart problems, high cholesterol, weight gain or loss, hair loss, memory problems, irregular periods, infertility and abortions (miscarriages) are the result of thyroid problems.

What is thyroid?

The thyroid is a gland located in front of your neck, which produces thyroid hormones that manage the body’s metabolic functions. The problem occurs when the hormones that are being secreted vary. If there is overactivity, more hormones get secreted, causing hyperthyroidism. While less hormone secretion results in hypothyroidism.

Cause & effect

Hyperthyroidism can cause rapid weight loss, sleeplessness, tremors and nervousness. It could also cause more serious problems like a high rate of cholesterol, weight gain, fatigue, memory problems and slower heart rate.

Thyroid disease is usually caused when the body produces abnormal proteins called antibodies. These antibodies interact with the thyroid hormone and make it either overactive or underactive depending on the type of antibody.

The common cause of hypothyroidism is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, a condition where the body produces antibodies which destroy a part of the thyroid gland. Whereas, hyperthyroidism is caused by Grave’s disease which makes thyroid gland produce too much of the hormone. Sometimes, few are born with congenital hypothyroidism.

Risk factors

Thyroid problems are commonly found in almost everyone. However, women are more vulnerable to hormonal changes in their body than men. It is first important to be aware of the symptoms for timely diagnosis.

  • Hyperthyroidism: Irregular heartbeat, disturbed sleep, hair loss, nervousness, weight loss, prominent eyes, weakness and restlessness.
  • Hypothyroidism: Weight gain, irregular periods, hair loss, dry skin, tiredness, sleepiness, reduced memory, puffy eyelids and high cholesterol.

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 prevent iodine deficiency.

You can also control the condition by following a proper diet:

  • Apart from foods rich in iodine, people suffering from hypothyroidism need to consume food rich in vitamin C such as tomatoes, cherries, squash and vitamin B like whole grains, fresh vegetables, beans, nuts and skimmed dairy products.
  • Ensure the intake of omega 3 products like fish and eggs.
  • Prepare your food in olive oil and consume dry fruits such as apricots and walnuts as your evening snack.
  • Avoid soy products, red meat, heavy cream, excess butter along with raw foods like cabbage, cauliflower, peaches, radishes and spinach.
  • Exercising or at least a 30-minute walk every day can increase the rate of metabolism and can also burn the extra calories, keeping you energised. Exercise increases blood flow and stimulates the thyroid hormone.

With proper care and little precaution, thyroid-related conditions can be managed easily. Ensure that you drink lots of water and at least a glass of green tea every day to maintain your body weight.

(The author is a consultant, Internal Medicine at Fortis Hospital)