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Thyroid gland

Thyroid gland


Your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in front of your neck, just above your collarbone. It is an endocrine gland. it produces thyroid hormones. These thyroid hormones control various metabolic functions of the body like - food burning,  energy expenditure,  proper functioning of other hormone producing glands and so on.




What is hypothyroidism?

If the thyroid gland produces less than the required amount of thyroid hormone then the levels of thyroid hormones decrease in the blood. This condition is called hypothyroidism. hypo means "under" or "below normal".



What are the symptoms of hypothyroidism?

The symptoms of hypothyroidism depends on how severe hypothyroisim. It can also vary from person to person. Some times no symptom may be present. In such cases it may be diagnosed when your doctor asks for thyroid function tests for some other reason, or incidentally on a routine health checkup.

Every 10th woman may be hypothyroid

Hypothyroidism is common

Who can develop hypothyroidism? How common is Hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism is the second commonest endocrine disease, next only to diabetes mellitus. It affects people all over the world. It can affect people of any age (including newborn babies), sex, race, social and economic status.

It has been estimated that about 42 million people in India suffer from thyroid diseases. One among ten women may be suffering from subclinical hypothyroidism (mild thyroid failure).



What are the common causes of hypothyroidism?

Autoimmune disease, removal of thyroid gland by surgery for some reason, radiation treatment. Other causes include iodine deficiency or excess, hypothyroidism since birth (congenital), medicines, pituitary disease etc.


What are the symptoms of Hypothyroidism?

As I have already mentioned above symptoms can be very non-specific and sometimes absent. Any of the below symptoms may be seen in people without hypothyroidism. If you develop these these symptoms or features newly then it may be more likely due to hypothyroidism:

  • Goitre or thyroid swelling.
  • Fatigue, lack of energy, lethargy.
  • Neck pain/sore throat (may be seen in thyroiditis).
  • Forgetfulness, slower thinking.
  • weight gain.
  • Decreased appetite.
  • Feeling cold.
  • Dryness of skin.
  • Hair fall.
  • Depression and emotional lability.
  • Excess sleep.
  • Constipation.
  • Menstrual disturbances, irregular menses, excess bleeding, worse cramps.
  • Tingling hands (Carpal tunnel syndrome).
  • Swelling of feet, puffiness of face (especially around eyes).
  • Muscle pains and joint aches.
  • High cholesterol.
  • Slowing of growth in children.
  • Feeding problems or constipation in a child.

As you can see, the symptoms are non-specific, so the only certain way of knowing is by doing a blood test.


(How) can I help others?

Because thyoid disease can run in families, you should educate and encourage your relatives to get themselves tested.


What should I tell my doctor?

  • If you have any of the symptoms above.
  • If you had undergone any neck or thyroid surgery.
  • If you ever suffered from cancer underwent radiation treatment.
  • Whether you were told about or treated for thyroid problems in the past.
  • Any family members having thyroid disease.
  • Have bi-polar disease (manic depression) or other psychiatric illness.
  • Taking any medicines which can affect thyroid like iodine, lithium, amiodarone, interferons.
  • Taking birth control pills, supplements, traditional remedies.
  • Taking any alternative medications like ayurvedic, unani, homeopathic medicines.



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