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Thyroid disorders: a rising healthcare burden

January has been marked as the month for Thyroid Awareness.
And with the surge in the number of thyroid-related health issues,
NT BUZZ gets you some important details
Danuska Da Gama | NT BUZZ

Thyroid is a two-lobed butterfly shaped, endocrine gland which sits below the Adam’s apple and plays various roles in bodily functions —through the steady release of a hormone called thyroxine (T4) and tri iodothyronine (T3) — that includes maintaining body metabolism, mental, physical growth and development.
Prevalence in India
According to a research paper titled, ‘Thyroid disorders in India: An epidemiological perspective’ published by Ambika Gopalakrishnan Unnikrishnan and Usha V Menon in the Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, thyroid diseases are, arguably, among the most common endocrine disorders worldwide. India too, is not exception. The research paper estimates that around 42 million people in India suffer from thyroid related diseases.
“Going by statistics, one in every three individuals in India is suffering from thyroid disorder, with more women being affected than men,” says consultant surgeon (ENT) at Healthway Hospital, Sandesh Chodankar. Broadly, he states, the disorders are classified as goitrous (surgical thyroid disorders) and non-goitrous (medical thyroid disorders). “These disorders have been prevalent even in the past, but now ready availability of investigation and quality diagnostic equipment, has unmasked thyroid disorders apparently leading to their relative rise,” he says, adding that there are ways and means by which it can be both, cured and controlled.
Symptoms and detection
Thyroid ailments can manifest at any age, even though goitrous surgical thyroid disorders are commonly seen between the age group of 20 to 40 years. In old age especially, like in the case with many organs, the thyroid gland can develop nodules or can lead to decrease in the secretion of thyroid hormones in turn leading to hypothyroidism (decrease in secretion)
“The obvious and early symptoms of hyperthyroidism (increase in secretion) which even a layman can spot, are fatigue, loss of sleep, frequent bowel movements, palpitations, heat intolerance, sweating, loss of weight, tremors, anxiety, irritability, mental disturbances, dry skin, and menstrual irregularities,” says Chodankar. Symptoms of hypothyroidism meanwhile include weight gain, puffy face, hoarseness of voice, muscle or joint pains and hair loss. “Swelling in the midline of the neck is also a symptom, however one can have thyroid disorder symptoms even in the absence of goitre,” says Chodankar.
He says that it is best to get oneself examined, as if any of the symptoms or combination of symptoms develop, early care and treatment is half the battle won.
Prevention is key
“Presently, a goitrous thyroid gland especially one with a thyroid nodule has a 20 per cent chance of harbouring a thyroid malignancy. This, if detected and treated surgically in early stages has a 100 per cent cure rate. However, there are some thyroid cancers like anaplastic cancer of the thyroid gland, wherein the prognosis is not so good,” he explains.
However, on the same lines, Chodankar says that early detection of medical thyroid disorders is also very important. “Nowadays, they can be detected in subclinical stages and with prompt, regular and monitored drug treatment patients can have a normal life,” says Chodankar. But there are ways to keep the thyroid gland in good harmony, especially by maintaining good dietary habits, which includes avoiding cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli and brussels sprouts, which act as goitrogenic sources leading to goitre and hypofunction of thyroid gland.
“Stressing on healthy habits goes a long way in preventing iodine-induced thyroid disorders. Have ample amount of baked sea fish, frozen yogurt, fresh eggs, chicken which are naturally rich in iodine. Salted nuts are rich in selenium which also supports healthy thyroid function,” concludes Chodankar.

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