— Dr. Rajan Verma, Medical Director, Lab operations, Oncquest Laboratories Ltd.
A small, butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of the neck plays a major role in the metabolism, growth, and development of the human body. It helps in regulating several body functions by releasing hormones into the bloodstream.
Several diseases, including hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, Hashimoto’s disease, Graves’ disease, goiter, and thyroid cancer may develop If the thyroid gland doesn’t function properly.
One can always check thyroid disorder if the following Symptoms of Hypothyroidism comes to your notice –
- Chronic constipation
- Flaky, dry skin
- A sudden increase in weight
- Swollen face
- Hoarse voice
- Sensitivity to cold
- Pain, stiffness, or swelling in your joints
- Irregular menstrual periods with heavy flow
- Thin hair
- Slow heart rate
- Weak memory
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Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism
- Weight loss
- Enlarged thyroid gland
- Muscle weakness and tremors
- Irregular menstrual periods
- Extreme sensitivity to heat
- Problems with vision
If you’re concerned that you may have an undiagnosed thyroid condition, then you can easily perform a self-check following this procedure:
- Stand in front of a mirror, tilt back your head, and take a sip of water.
- Observe the area below Adam’s apple for signs of bulging.
- Repeat the process a few times and note down the observations.
- If you see excessive bulging, nodules, or enlarged glands, contact your physician immediately.
The only way to be sure, however, is to perform a blood test that measures your thyroid hormone levels. Usually, a physician would recommend a TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) test. Depending on the amount of hormone present in your system, the physician can then zero in on the type of thyroid disorder that you may be suffering from and prescribe appropriate treatment accordingly.
It is much more difficult to diagnose thyroid-related disorders in senior citizens because many of the symptoms associated with a malfunctioning thyroid gland overlap with the symptoms of aging.
Loss of memory, weight gain, and constipation are a few examples of the symptoms.
There are also various myths regarding thyroid diseases that one must be very aware of. Following is a myth v/s truth for better understanding –
- If you have a thyroid disorder, you’ll develop a goiter. (Fact: Majority of people with thyroid disorder never develop goiter)
- It’s safer and much better to treat thyroid diseases with Iodine supplements rather than medicine. (Fact: Never take any kind of iodine supplements without consulting your doctor. You may end up aggravating the problem)
- A lump in the thyroid gland means you have cancer. (Fact: Only 5% of lumps in the thyroid gland are cancerous)
It is very important to keep your thyroid gland healthy. You may start one by following the below points –
- Up your iodine intake. The thyroid requires iodine for producing several of its hormones.
Unfortunately, though, our diets are often lacking in iodine. Use iodized salt to compensate for the deficiency.
- Consume a wide variety of nuts, especially Brazilian nuts. They have a high concentration of Selenium which is needed to convert T4 hormone into T3 hormone. Besides these, fish, garlic, onion and seafood are also good sources of Selenium.
- Stay away from fasting and crash diets. Eat nutrient-dense foods, and get a healthy amount of sleep for keeping your thyroid healthy.
- There’s strong evidence that suggests that autoimmune thyroid disorders are often caused by gluten allergies. So try to avoid gluten as much as possible.
- The thyroid is vulnerable to oxidative stress, so eat plenty of antioxidants. This means eating raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, and other colorful vegetables.