In my previous post, I explained about how I was diagnosed with Hypothyroidism, the symptoms and the mental trauma attached to it. But I do feel that a lot of the trauma comes from being unaware….unaware of what the ailment is all about, how you can fight it/ or even live with it and how not it let it ruin your mental peace.
After I came to know about my Hypothyroidism, I moped around for a long time before my Dad told me to read and study more about it instead of whining. He decided to sit with me online and read through articles and explain them to me in layman’s lingo What more could a daughter ask for right?
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I was amazed at how little I knew…Such things are many times a topic of taboo and not many like talking about it or their repercussions but I feel like had I known about this earlier I could have taken precautions and some measures, and would have been a healthier person today.
I’ve tried to explain the best I can and in the most easiest way possible. I do understand that the topic is a tad bit dry but well awareness is necessary I feel and I’ve tried to pool in all sources like my Doctor and articles on the net so as to ensure that the data here is accurate. If any of you feel otherwise, pls do bring it to our notice so that we can make the requisite changes.
What exactly is the thyroid and what does it do?
The thyroid is a gland that produces special hormones in our bodies. The major hormones that the thyroid makes and releases into the bloodstream are called T4 or thyroxine and T3 or triiodothyronine.
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Our body needs thyroid hormones to work properly. These hormones control the energy levels in our body. i.e. how fast the body expends energy and and also helps in growth.
The gland is controlled by another gland — the pituitary — and also by the hypothalamus, which is a certain portion of the brain that not only controls the endocrine system through the pituitary gland but also the nervous system in the body.
Finding your Thyroid!
The thyroid is shaped like a little butterfly and is situated at the lower base of the neck in the front.
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To find it, touch your throat in the Adam’s apple area with one finger and the top of your breastbone (the flat bone that runs down the middle of your chest) with another finger. The thyroid is in that small space in between your fingers. (And it bobs up and down when you swallow. See if you can feel it!)
In simple terms, the thyroid can be compared to the thermostat in your house. If the thyroid is too active and produces too much T4 and T3, it’s like having a thermostat that’s set too high, so the house gets overheated.(Hyperthyroidism) If it’s not active enough, it’s set too low and the house is too cold.(Hypothyroidism) And if it’s making just the right amount of thyroid hormones, then it keeps the temperature just right.
Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland does not make enough thyroid hormone.
- Being more sensitive to cold
- Depression, weakness, Fatigue or feeling slowed down
- Heavier menstrual periods
- Joint or muscle pain
- Paleness or dry skin & thin, brittle hair or fingernails
- Weight gain (unintentional)
Late symptoms, if left untreated:
- Decreased taste and smell
- Puffy face, hands, and feet
- Slow speech
- Thickening of the skin
- Thinning of eyebrows
The purpose of treatment is to replace the thyroid hormone that is lacking. Thyroxine or Thyronrom is the most commonly used medication in India and comes at diff levels of concentration. I was prescribed 50mg initially (it would have been 25mg but my levels were off the charts) and then some 2yrs back, it was hiked to 75mg.
Doctors will prescribe the lowest dose possible that effectively relieves symptoms and brings your TSH level to a normal range. If you have heart disease or you are older, your doctor may start with a very small dose.
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Hyperthyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland makes too much thyroid hormone. The condition is often referred to as an “overactive thyroid.”
How the condition is treated depends on the cause and the severity of symptoms. Hyperthyroidism is usually treated with one or more of the following:
- Antithyroid medications
- Radioactive iodine (which destroys the thyroid and stops the excess production of hormones)
- Surgery to remove the thyroid. If the thyroid must be removed with surgery or destroyed with radiation, you must take thyroid hormone replacement pills for the rest of your life.
- Beta-blockers such as propranolol are used to treat some of the symptoms, including rapid heart rate, sweating, and anxiety until the hyperthyroidism can be controlled.
If the thyroid must be removed with surgery or destroyed with radiation, you must take thyroid hormone replacement pills for the rest of your life.
The doctor would do a physical examination which includes checking if your thyroid looks enlarged externally, the rate of hair growth, checking your nails for strength/ brittleness, pallor of your skin. Blood pressure would also be checked along with reflexes.
Laboratory tests to determine thyroid function include:
- TSH test
- T4 test
- T3 test
I know this may seem like a whole load of gyaan to some…but I encourage you to read every bit of this to get a better understanding so that if you find any similar symptoms you can go to the Doc immediately for a checkup.