Sensitivity to cold, weight gain & poor digestion could be early signs of thyroid disorder says Dr KP Singh: The thyroid gland that sits low in the throat area is the primary regulator of metabolism and secretes two hormones — thyroxine and triiodothyronine — commonly known as T4 and T3.
Even as several disorders related to the thyroid gland are common, awareness about the disease is invariably low. To create awareness about thyroid and diseases related to it, January is observed as the Thyroid Awareness Month.
Dr KP Singh, Director, Endocrinology, Fortis Hospital Mohali, through a health advisory explains the causes and symptoms of thyroid problems.
What is Thyroid Gland
The thyroid gland, located below the voice box, is the largest endocrine gland. Secretion of T4 and T3 is controlled by the Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH), which is secreted by the pituitary. “Diseases of the thyroid gland include hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, goitre, cretinism, myxedema, thyroid cancer and rarely thyroid storm,” added Dr Singh.
1. Gender/Age: Women are at a higher risk of developing thyroid conditions compared to men and people above 50 years of age are more susceptible.
2. Personal history: Those with a history of thyroid disease are at a greater risk of developing the disease. A personal history of any auto-immune disease slightly increases one’s risk of developing an autoimmune thyroid disease such as Hashimoto’s disease or Graves’ disease.
3. Genetic factors: Those with a first-degree female relative, including mother, sister, daughter etc., also have a higher risk of developing the disease.
Hyperthyroidism: Symptoms such as weight loss, insomnia, heartbeat palpitations, hand tremors, intolerance to heat, and disturbances in the digestive system are related to hyperthyroidism. Women suffering from hypothyroidism may experience heavy periods along with puffiness and constipation.
Hypothyroidism: People with under-active thyroid problems, on the other hand, have difficulty maintaining stable weight and have symptoms such as tiredness, sensitivity to cold, weight gain, constipation and muscle cramps.
Dr Singh said, “Consume a healthy diet, undergo regular check-up, avoid excessive exposure to radiation of all kinds, don’t consume distilled water, use chelated supplements etc. to prevent thyroid problems.”
Discussing treatment options, Dr Singh, added, “Keep a basal thermometer in the armpit for 10 minutes upon waking up in the morning. The thermometer must be calibrated to the tenths of a degree. The normal body temperature between 97.8 and 98.2 degrees Fahrenheit. A reading below the range could indicate low thyroid activity (hypothyroidism), whilst a reading above could mean excess activity (hyperthyroidism). Other diagnostic tests are also available to both disorders.”