My mother has been recently detected with high level of TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone), which means that her thyroid gland is not secreting the right amount of hormones. Her pathlogical readings called for a confirmatory double check and it came out as the same, the second time around as well. So, mother is prescribed a low dose of Thyronorm. Later, after things got settled on the family front, I went to do a little research on the endocrine system.
What is thyroid?
The thyroid is a small (less than an ounce) gland located below the muscles at the front of the neck. It is like a butterfly that sits right at the spot where we would tie a bow. Thyroid hormones are released from this gland and travel through the bloodstream to the body. Considering this, the malfunctioning of the thyroid gland is likely to affect the body metabolism on the whole.
If the thyroid is overactive, it releases too much thyroid hormone into the bloodstream, resulting in hyperthyroidism. An underactive thyroid produces too little thyroid hormone, resulting in hypothyroidism. An underactive or overactive thyroid would slow down or speed up the body metabolism.
What are the symptoms of hyperthyroidism?
Fatigue, irritability, difficulty in sleeping
Frequent mood swings
Irregular menstruation in girls
What are the symptoms of hypothyroidism?
Increased sensitivity to cold and season changes
Pale, dry skin
Hoarseness in voice
An elevated blood cholesterol level
Heavier menstrual periods in girls
When to visit a doctor?
If you are suffering from chronic fatigue, depression, excessive body weight gain, hoarseness of voice, breathing difficulty and recurrent vulnerability to colds and flu, you need to visit the doctor. These are indicative of thyroid malfunction and need to be treated long term.
What are the laboratory tests for diagnosis?
A critical part of evaluating thyroid disease is to clinically assess the patient's vital parameters before sending him for the blood tests. The blood tests that may be done as part of a diagnosis are:
Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) Test
Total T4/ Total Thyroxine
Total T3 / Total Triiodothyronine
What is an ideal TSH level?
According to the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE), the TSH reference range is 0.5 to 5.0. A TSH value of less than 0.5 is considered hyperthyroidism, while a TSH value of more than 5.0 is considered hypothyroidism.
How to treat thyroid disorder?
Treating thyroid disorder is a long term process and sometimes it takes years to deal with the disease. However, having said this, correct doses of medicines and clinical help at the right time can be critical. Apart from the prescribed medicines, one should also go for a lifestyle modication. Moderated eating and sleeping habits and exercise help in dealing with the disorder faster.
You may not know that just about all the iodine we ingest is used up by the thyroid gland. Regular table salt has added iodine, so it is a part of our daily diet. Deficiency in iodine will develop hypothyroidism. So, can just adding Iodine treat thyroid disorders? No, it will not. But a small amount of iodine in daily diet will help in the prevention of the disorders.
What are the medications?
Thyroid hormone medicine for treating hypothyroidism, include levothyroxine sodium (for example, Synthroid, Levoxyl, or Levothroid). Propylthiouracil PTU is used for the treatment of hyperthyroidism. Radioactive iodine is the most widely recommended permanent treatment of hyperthyroidism.