January is knwon as ‘Thyroid Awareness Month’. The entire month is used to make people aware of the diseases associated with this butterfly-shaped gland. This is important for the timely diagnosis of health ailments. According to the Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, an estimated 42 million people in India are currently suffering from thyroid diseases. The global prevalence of thyroid-associated diseases is also increasing day by day.
Thyroid and its significance
The thyroid is a gland located just below Adam’s apple in the neck. It is a part of the endocrine system that is known to regulate various body functions. The thyroid uses iodine from the food you eat and produces hormones that are important for the optimal function of your brain, kidneys, and liver. Also, it plays a vital role in the growth, metabolism, and development of your body. Hormones including triiodothyronine, tetraiodothyronine, and calcitonin are produced by the thyroid and they help in breathing, regulating cholesterol level, body weight, improving muscle strength, and maintaining heart rate.
Overactivity or under activity of the thyroid causes a hormonal imbalance in the body, that shows an array of symptoms. Here we tell you about a few common thyroid problems.
When your thyroid gland becomes overactive, it leads to hyperthyroidism. The condition is characterized by symptoms like restlessness, shaking, anxiety, weight loss, irritability, nervousness, trouble sleeping, etc. Hyperthyroidism is diagnosed by measuring the level of THS (Thyroid-stimulating hormone) and T4. An increased level of T4 and a low level of THS confirm the condition.
An underactive thyroid gland causes hypothyroidism. This means your gland is not able to produce a significant level of hormones. It leads to symptoms like memory problems, depression, dry skin, fatigue, constipation, slow heart rate, weight gain, etc. A high THS level in the body and a low level of T4 hormone confirms the condition.
Also known as chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis, Hashimoto’s disease occurs when your own immune cells start attacking the thyroid gland mistakenly and make it unable to produce hormones anymore. Though it can affect anyone regardless of age, Hashimoto’s disease mostly affects middle-age women. The condition is characterized by symptoms like fatigue, dry skin, intolerance to cold, constipation, thinning hair, etc.