Thyroid and its Complications

Most of the time, thyroid issues aren’t serious and are only treated once symptoms become bothersome
"The human body is a complex, highly organized structure made up of unique cells that work together to accomplish the specific functions necessary for Its sustenance."
"The human body is a complex, highly organized structure made up of unique cells that work together to accomplish the specific functions necessary for Its sustenance." Special arrangement

“If anything is sacred, the human body is sacred.” (Walt Whitman)

“The body is the medium to fulfil all dharma.” (Upanishad)

“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” (Jim Rohn)

You often find yourself tired, you have been gaining weight, your skin is dry and your hair is thinning, your nails are weak and peel. In all likelihood you may be suffering from hypothyroidism. Low thyroid levels can cause brittle nails as well as other symptoms such as forgetfulness and depression.

The human body is a complex, highly organized structure made up of unique cells that work together to accomplish the specific functions necessary for Its sustenance.

Different organs can work together to perform a common function and groups of organ systems work together to make complete, functional organisms, like us! One of the regulatory substances produced in an organism and transported in tissue fluids such as blood or sap to stimulate specific cells or tissues into action, are known as Hormones.

These are chemical messengers that are secreted directly into the blood, which carries them to organs and tissues of the body to exert their functions.

There are many types of hormones that act on different aspects of bodily functions and processes, some of which include development and growth, metabolism of food items, sexual function and reproductive growth and health, cognitive function and mood, maintenance of body temperature and thirst, etc.

Hormones are secreted from the endocrine glands in the body. The glands are ductless, so hormones are secreted directly into the blood stream rather than by way of ducts.

The major endocrine glands in the body are pituitary gland, pineal gland, thymus, thyroid, adrenal, pancreas, testes, ovaries, etc. These organs secrete hormones in microscopic amounts and it takes only very small amounts to bring about major changes in the body.

Even a very slight excess of hormone secretion can lead to diseases, as can the slightest deficiency in a hormone. In the case of hormone deficiency, a synthetic hormone replacement therapy may be used and in cases of excess hormone production, medications may be used to curb the effects of the hormone. We will discuss here the role of the thyroid gland in our body functions.

The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped organ located at the base of our neck, just below the Adam’s apple. It releases hormones that control metabolism - the way our body uses energy.

The thyroid’s hormones regulate vital body functions, including breathing, heart rate, central and peripheral nervous systems, body weight, muscle strength, menstrual cycles, body temperature, cholesterol levels and much more! The thyroid gland is about 2-inches long and has two sides called lobes that lie on either side of our windpipe, and is usually connected by a strip of thyroid tissue known as an isthmus. Some people do not have an isthmus, and instead have two separate thyroid lobes.

The thyroid gland uses iodine from the foods we eat to make two main hormones: Triiodothyronine (T3) and Thyroxine (T4). It is important that T3 and T4 levels are neither too high nor too low. Two glands in the brain - the hypothalamus and the pituitary communicate to maintain T3 and T4 balance.

The hypothalamus produces TSH Releasing Hormone (TRH) that signals the pituitary to tell the thyroid gland to produce more or less of T3 and T4 by either increasing or decreasing the release of a hormone called thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). When T3 and T4 levels are low in the blood, the pituitary gland releases more TSH to tell the thyroid gland to produce more thyroid hormones. If T3 and T4 levels are high, the pituitary gland releases less TSH to the thyroid gland to slow production of these hormones.

T3 and T4 travel in our bloodstream to reach almost every cell in the body. The hormones regulate the speed with which the cells/metabolism work. For example, T3 and T4 regulate your heart rate and the speed at which your intestines process food. So if T3 and T4 levels are low, your heart rate may be slower than normal, and you may have constipation and weight gain. If T3 and T4 levels are high, you may have a rapid heart rate and diarrhoea and weight loss.

Several different problems can arise when our thyroid produces too much hormone (hyperthyroidism) or not enough (hypothyroidism). When our thyroid is underproducing or overproducing, it can cause bothersome symptoms such as irritability, fatigue, weight loss, weight gain, and more. In hyperthyroidism, our thyroid gland is overactive. It produces too much thyroid hormone.

This can cause many of our body functions to speed up. Hyperthyroidism affects between 1 and 3 percent Trusted Source of people in the United States and is more common in women.

Hyperthyroidism can also be caused by: thyroid gland inflammation, too much iodine intake, taking too much thyroid hormone medication, overactive thyroid nodules, also known as toxic nodular goitre or multinodular goitre, non-cancerous pituitary gland tumour.

Excessive thyroid hormone production may lead to symptoms that can include restlessness, nervousness, racing heart rate, irritability, increased sweating, shaking, anxiety, troubled sleeping, thin skin, brittle hair and nails, muscle weakness, weight loss, increased appetite, frequent bowel movements, bulging eyes (in Graves’ disease), etc.

Hypothyroidism is just the opposite of hyperthyroidism. Our thyroid gland is underactive and can’t produce enough of its hormones. This can cause some of our body functions to slow down.

It is often caused by Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, a surgery that removes the thyroid gland, or damage from radiation treatment. It can also be caused by thyroiditis, congenital hypothyroidism, meaning that you can be born with the condition, iodine deficiency, pituitary gland or hypothalamus disorders, medications, including heart medications, cancer medications, and bipolar disorder medications.

One is more likely to develop it if one has other health conditions, such as celiac disease, type 1 or type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, or lupus. Too little thyroid hormone production leads to symptoms such as fatigue, dry skin and hair, increased sensitivity to cold temperatures, memory problems, constipation, depression, weight gain, weakness or muscle and joint pain, slow heart rate, heavy and irregular menstruation, fertility problems and even coma.

A blood test measures the levels of thyroid hormone (thyroxine, or T4) and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) in our blood. Our pituitary gland releases TSH to stimulate our thyroid to produce its hormones. High thyroxine and low TSH levels can indicate that our thyroid gland is overactive.

Most of the time, thyroid issues aren’t serious and are only treated once symptoms become bothersome. Unless you have a very large nodule on your thyroid, you probably won’t easily know you have a thyroid problem.

However, if you experience changes in your weight, personality, emotions, and even skin texture, these can all be symptoms of thyroid problems. Though you may not be able to prevent thyroid disease, you can prevent complications by getting it diagnosed right away and following the treatment plan.

Treating hyperthyroidism typically involves damaging our thyroid to limit its function. For hypothyroidism, however, the treatment often involves taking supplemental thyroid hormone as a medication in doses determined by a qualified physician after due examination.

One should, however, be wary of a thyroid storm, which is a medical emergency due to excess thyroid hormones. It is important to seek emergency medical attention if you experience these symptoms: racing, rapid heart rate that may be 140 beats per minute or higher, fever high than 101.5°F (38.61°C), mental status changes that include restlessness, confusion, or agitation, sweating and loss of consciousness.

While you can’t prevent all thyroid disorders, you can take some thyroid-friendly diet steps that can help keep your thyroid working as well as possible. Researchers have linked a diet high in ultra-processed foods like frozen meals, hot dogs, and some packaged foods, such as cookies, cakes, or other snack items, with increased risks for subclinical hyperthyroidism - a degree of hyperthyroidism that may not yet be severe enough to cause definite symptoms.

Our body requires iron to make thyroid hormone. If you are iron-deficient, you could be at greater risk for hypothyroidism. Getting enough iron in your daily diet can be an important step. Hypothyroidism treatment medications may also not work as well if you are low in iron.

Selenium is a trace mineral your body requires to activate thyroid hormone. Studies have linked low selenium levels with increased risks for chronic autoimmune thyroiditis, Graves’ disease, and goitre. Selenium levels can be increased by intake of meat, seafood, or whole grains. But some people may require a supplement to enhance selenium levels.

Traditional medicine has utilised coriander seeds for the thyroid gland. Patients with hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism are usually advised to consume coriander seed, as it has a lot of nutrients including antioxidants. Coriander leaves, and even water can do wonders for a person suffering from thyroid.

Coriander is high in vitamins A, C, and K. Its leaves contain more vitamin C than its seeds do. The leaves also contain a high amount of antioxidant properties and is also helpful in thyroid induced cholesterol. Coriander seed water can help in stimulating weight loss.

Coriander water helps ease arthritic symptoms by lowering joint discomfort and swelling and reduces hair loss and thickens your existing hair. It Control blood sugar levels and remove toxins from the body.

Bhushan Lal Razdan, formerly of the Indian Revenue Service, retired as Director General of Income Tax (Investigation), Chandigarh.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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