How’s your butterfly shaped Thyroid Gland doing? | Daily Star
11:16 AM, August 24, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 10:47 AM, September 12, 2018

How’s your butterfly doing?

All of us have a butterfly shaped organ in our body, which is crucial in maintaining the health of all the cells.

Located just below the Adam’s apple in our throat, the Thyroid Gland produces hormones that regulate the body’s metabolic rate as well as heart and digestive function, muscle control, brain development, etc.

Let us enlighten ourselves about this organ today.

About Thyroid Gland

Thyroid Gland produces two endocrine hormones -- thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3), which are regulated by our hypothalamus and the pituitary glands in our brains. Hypothalamus produces Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) to regulate the production of T4 and T3. If there is a problem in the thyroid function, your doctor will generally test these three hormone levels in your blood.

If the gland is producing more hormones than normal then you will have hyperthyroidism, while the opposite case is called hypothyroidism. Both the disorders need proper treatment.

It is unlikely that someone would die from these conditions as the progresses of these diseases are slow and you would get diagnosed sooner or later usually.

How to keep your butterfly healthy?

Dr Marufa Mostari, endocrinologist at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), said, “Iodine intake is the one and only way to keep the gland healthy. Use of iodised salt reduces thyroid complications to a significant amount. However, at present, there are no rules and regulations regarding how much iodine should be there in salt. So, there is a possibility that the salt you buy can have too much or too little iodine in it.”

Patients usually suffer from hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism nowadays as an autoimmune disease as iodine deficiency is not rampant in the country, she observed.

Symptoms of hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism

Dr Marufa said, “Most of the patients do not experience any significant symptom. Often, they are diagnosed when they come to treat some other diseases”.

However, there is a wide range of symptoms for thyroid disorder. Most prominent symptoms for hypothyroidism are:

Weight gain

Fatigue and tiredness

Impaired memory

Poor concentration

Puffy face

Dry hair and skin; hair loss

Depression

Mood swing

Muscle cramps

Sensitivity to cold or heat

Slower heart rate

Irregular menstruation in Women

Sleep disorders

Poor digestion

Loss of interest in work or hobby

General weakness

Excess sweating

Anxiety

Infertility

Tremors

In the case of hyperthyroidism, the symptoms are almost same but the patient loses weight instead of gaining and has a faster heart rate. In presence of one or a few of these symptoms you should consult your doctor as soon as possible.

Who commonly suffer from hypothyroidism?

In general, women suffer more from hypothyroidism than men do. However, anyone of any age can be affected by thyroid disorders. Therefore, Dr Marufa Mostari suggested that children, even as neonatals, should be screened for congenital hypothyroidism as their growth gets impaired if they are not treated early. They can also become mentally challenged if there is an unaddressed thyroid issue, she added.

Treatment

In the case of hypothyroidism, the treatment simply includes intake of synthetic hormonal supplements. And in the case of hyperthyroidism, there might be surgery and afterwards supplementation. A patient must regularly screen the hormone levels and follow the doctor’s prescription.

Foods to avoid and take

Thyroid patients can eat anything, but if there is a goiter then s/he must avoid goitrogenic food items like cabbage, carrot, radish, cauliflower and other cruciferous vegetables.

Some doctors suggest sea food like kelp or dried sea fish can be helpful for the patients. It is also suggested that thyroid patients should eat a balanced diet which is rich in proteins as such patients are likely to suffer from malnutrition due to their slower metabolism, which hinders the absorption of nutrients.

Exercise

Yoga postures might be helpful in maintaining thyroid health, according to some claims. However, Dr Mostari said there is no study which establishes it as a fact.

A hypothyroidism patient should, however, practice light to moderate exercise to keep the weight in check, she added.

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