Thyroid alert for women!
The disorder is affecting younger women too, of late. Here's how to battle it with the right approach
It's one of the most common disorders that can affect an individual owing to the fast lives we lead. Alarming figures say it attacks close to 12 million people, annually, and yet the unfortunate part is that many don't even know they have a thyroid disorder. Have you wondered why you are gaining too much weight even when you are eating less food? Are you worried why your child scores poor marks in exams despite putting in a lot of effort?
Do you know why one of your close friends find it difficult to conceive a child or is experiencing miscarriages? It could well be due to the thyroid gland.
The thyroid gland is located in the front of your neck with two lobes on either side of your windpipe. The gland is controlled by the pituitary gland that lies underneath your brain in your skull. The pituitary senses the level of thyroid hormones in your blood stream and secretes thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). "This hormone activates the thyroid gland to produce thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) hormones. Thyroid gland needs iodine to produce T3 and T4 hormones. Both too much and too little iodine can cause the thyroid to malfunction," explains Dr Nupur Krishnan.
What is a goitre?
This is the enlargement of the thyroid gland that takes place when essential nutrients like iodine and selenium are deficient in the diet. The gland thus grows in an effort to filter more blood to get the scarce nutrients out of the blood supply. It occurs in about 5 % of thyroid patients.
Virgin coconut oil offers hope for those suffering from hypothyroidism. It contains
medium chain fatty acids, which increase metabolic rate and promote weight loss.
- Avoid artificial sweeteners made of aspartame.
- Avoid peanuts, millet and rapeseed (canola oil)
- Avoid smoking and a high dose of nutrition supplements.
Consumption of sufficient iodine and Vitamin A helps in reversing Hypothyroidism. The recommended dietary allowances(RDA) for iodine is 150 mcg (micrograms) per day for adults.
Avoid salads of raw vegetables made with those of the cabbage family like cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables. They contain a substance known as goitrogens, which affects thyroid hormones and may lead to goiter. By cooking these vegetables goitrogens can be destroyed and its adverse effects can be reduced.
Consume more seafoods, especially ocean fish, which is a good source of iodine. Even people on a low-salt diet can get plenty of iodine from green leafy vegetables, milk and milk products.
Have eggs as well as deep yellow or orange fruits and dark green vegetables which help in meeting additional vitamin A requirements.
Pregnant women need 220 mcg iodine per day and nursing mothers, 290 mcg. Iodised salt provides 2 to 6 gm of salt each day.
Although anti-thyroid medications cut down the thyroid gland's overproduction this alone may not be the best approach because hyperthyroidism may reoccur once medication is stopped. You can take some extra supplements like edible coconut oil, primrose oil, flaxseed oil or fish oil to help with the dryness and hair loss.
Affecting younger women today
Says endocrinologist Dr Altamash Shaikh, "It's no longer affecting just the over-30 group. Thyroid is also affecting younger women today in the age bracket 15-20. It's important that youngsters keep a check on symptoms of puffiness, weight gain and fatigue and if they show these, they must get a TSH screening done. There is no need to panic. Thyroid is treatable."
Hypothyroidism & Hyperthyroidism
When thyroid produces high level of T4 and T3, it is known as Hyperthyroidism. Graves disease is the most common cause of this. This condition speeds up metabolism rate and results in unusual hunger, weight loss, muscle weakness, rapid heart beat, excessive sweat etc.
Hypothyroidism is caused due to decreased production of thyroid hormone. Dr Krishnan, who has treated several patients suffering from this disorder, adds, "Hypothyroidism happens when the thyroid gland is unable to produce enough T3 or T4. Inflammation in thyroid known as Thyroiditis also cause hypothyroidism. In any case, timely diagnosis is crucial."
Infertility and pregnancy
Having trouble getting pregnant? Thyroid could be the culprit. Both hyper and hypothyroidism can cause infertility. "In males, it leads to low sex drive and sperm reduction. In females, it affects production of ovaries and causes premature menopause. However, normal fertility can be restored. During pregnancy one must take care of hypothyroidism, as it might cause miscarriages or birth defects in a child," Dr Krishnan explains.
- Abnormal weight gain
- Neck enlargement
- Frequent and heavy menstrual flow
- Thinning hair, dry hair and hair loss
- Slow heart rate
- Developing dry, coarse skin
- Difficulty in conceiving
- Feeling exhausted easily
- Mood fluctuations and poor memory
- Muscle cramps and joint pain
- Feeling cold, developing a husky voice
- Goitre The disorder is affecting younger women too, of late. Here's how to battle it with the right approach