200 million individuals worldwide face thyroid disorder
25TH MAY, 2012: WORLD THYROID DAY
DR. ABDUL HAMID ZARGAR
The world faces a burden of thyroid disease that has reached epidemic proportions. An estimated 200 million individuals worldwide have a thyroid disorder. The thyroid, gland located in the neck, produces hormones that influence virtually every cell, tissue and organ in the body. Today is World Thyroid Day, a day to promote awareness and understanding of thyroid health and the advances made in treating thyroid. Diseases of the thyroid are very common and affect millions of people worldwide. According to The Indian Thyroid Society recent data, 4.2 crores Indians are suffering from thyroid disorders with almost 60-70 per cent undiagnosed. Although the reason is not understood, women are at a higher risk of most types of thyroid disease than men. Thyroid disease affects seven times more women than men, making it an important and understudied topic in women's health.
The most common disorder associated with thyroid is hypothyroidism, an insufficient production of thyroid hormone. Hyperthyroidism is an overproduction of thyroid hormone, which is far less common than hypothyroidism.
The Signs & symptoms of Hypothyroidism includes – tiredness, loss of interest and/or pleasure, forgetfulness, dry, coarse hair, puffy face and eyes, slow heartbeat, dry skin, cold intolerance, weight gain, constipation, brittle nails, infertility etc.
Hypothyroidism in Pregnancy is an important health-care issue which needs to be identified in time and appropriately treated. If not properly diagnosed and adequately treated this disorder is associated with increased risk of obstetrical complications, risk for spontaneous miscarriage and more importantly predisposes the fetus to mental and physical retardation. In India the awareness of the thyroid disease is very low & there is a temptation for patients to assume that seemingly vague symptoms like fatigue, pain, depression or weight gain are due to age, lifestyle or stress.
The thyroid requires iodine (usually ingested through the diet) to produce thyroid hormone. Thyroid problems are particularly common in areas covered at one time by glaciers, where iodine is not present in the soil and in foods. In many of these countries, an enlarged thyroid, known as goiter, is seen in as many as one in five or more people, and is usually due to iodine deficiency. According to the World Health Organization, iodine deficiency is the world's most prevalent, yet easily preventable, cause of brain damage. It affects more than 740 million people worldwide; 13% of the world's population. As many as an additional 30% of the population worldwide is at risk of iodine deficiency-related problems. In early 90s a study we conducted an extensive study, covering more than 200 villages(including the city of Srinagar) which showed that more 45% of the school going children in the age group of 5-15 years were suffering from enlarged thyroid gland(goiter) due to iodine deficiency. Taking a notice of these findings of immense public health importance a pilot study was conducted to find the magnitude of awareness among people, surprisingly most of the population of Kashmir was not aware of the benefits of using the iodized salt. Subsequently a massive awareness campaign was started about the ill effects of iodine deficiency and the benefits of using iodized salt. Another study conducted more than a decade later to have a relook at the magnitude of iodine deficiency in school children. The results of the study revealed that only 4.8% of school going children are suffering from goiter. These results are extremely gratifying for us because it indicates the efforts we put in to eradicate this menace have borne fruit but there is no room for complacency.
When it occurs during pregnancy, mild iodine deficiency in a pregnant mother can cause cognitive and developmental problems in her children that may reduce their IQ by as much as 15 IQ points. But serious iodine deficiency in a pregnant woman can cause stillbirth, miscarriage, and in particular, a congenital abnormality known as cretinism in her child. Cretinism is a serious, irreversible condition often involving severe mental retardation.
We should remember, once an iodine deficient area, always an iodine deficient area. We should continue to take care. We continuously need to encourage consumption of iodized salt in order to keep this major public health problem under check.
Dr. Abdul Hamid Zargar, DM is Member Institute Body, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, and Chairman, Independent Ethics Committee Fortis- Escorts Hospital & Research Centre, New Delhi. He is Past-President, Endocrine Society of India. Reach him at email@example.com
Lastupdate on : Thu, 24 May 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 24 May 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 25 May 2012 00:00:00 IST
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