Worrisome: Thyroid growing among young girls

January 2018 was the month of Thyroid awareness. Owing to excessive stress induced mainly due to work-life balance, thyroid dysfunctions among women is more common than in men, say experts

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As we come to the end of Thyroid awareness month, we ask experts about some striking observations they have made about increase in the thyroid disease among young girls and women.

“There is definitely a surge in the thyroid related illness especially hypothyroidism in young girls these days. With majority of the states being iodine replete, this is mostly autoimmunity related where body destroys its own organs. There is increasing evidence that the occurrence of thyroiditis is related to iodine supplementation,” said Dr Sneha Kothari, Consultant, Endocrinology and Diabetology, Global Hospitals, Parel, Mumbai.

Majorly, today, experts say they see a surge in young women between the age group of 20-51 years who get hypothyroid. Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) is a condition, in which your thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough of certain important hormones.

Dr Fred Williams, consultant endocrinologist, Columba Asia Hospital, Whitefield, Bangalore said, “Yes the prevalence of hypothyroidism does appear to be on the rise in young girls. Part of it is due to increased awareness and testing, particularly in the context of pregnancy. There also appears to be involvement of environmental factors that have led to increase in the incidence of autoimmune thyroid disease.”

Dr Ankita Ghag, Clinical Nutritionist, Vacchan Aarogya and Diabetes Care 365 says, “There can be various consequences due to excessive or deficient production of various hormones; which may create imbalance in physiological and hormonal regulation leading to several thyroid disorders such as Goitre, Hypothyroid, Hyperthyroid, Graves’s disease to name few.”

Iodine levels are a concern, say experts. “Across the world iodisation of salt has led to a drop in the incidence of iodine deficiency hypothyroidism but a spurt in autoimmune thyroid disease has been noted,” added Dr Williams.

“Although iodine supplementation should be implemented to prevent and treat Iodine deficiency disorders, iodine intake must be maintained at a safe level. Excessive iodine levels are unsafe and may lead to autoimmune thyroid disease and hypothyroidism,” said Dr Kothari.

The biggest problem with autoimmune thyroid disease hypothyroidism is that there are no preventive measures to fight it. The only solution to the problem is early screening of the diseases through a simple TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) test. Ask these experts if thyroid can be prevented in any way, and they refute any possibility.

“There really isn’t anything most people can do to stop the onset of autoimmune thyroid disease. The only solution to the problem is early screening of the diseases where iodine deficiency is common taking iodine supplements may help prevent hypothyroidism – however with iodisation of salt iodine deficiency is uncommon now. A  healthy balanced diet and exercise regimen is good from a general health point of view,” said Dr Williams.

(Source: Dr Ghag)

Hypothyroid: Deficient production of T3 and T4 hormones and increased secretion of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) is an indicator of condition known as Hypothyroidism. Common alterations which occur due to Hypothyroid are:

  • Weight gain
  • Fatigue
  • Forgetfulness
  • Depression
  • Constipation
  • Hair loss
  • Altered body temperatures
  • Changes or abnormalities in the menstrual cycle
  • Dry skin and brittle nails
  • Tingling and numbness in the hands or fingers
  • Hoarse voice

Hyperthyroid: Elevated levels of T3 and T4 hormones, with suppressed levels of TSH results in condition known as Hyperthyroidism. It’s less known as compared to Hypothyroidism. Common alterations which occur due to Hyperthyroid are:

Weight loss

Altered Heart rate (Fast – Tachycardia)

Fatigue and muscle weakness

Sleep Disturbance

Alteration in appetite

Diarrhoea or frequent bowel movements

Changes in vision

Menstrual disturbance

Impaired fertility

Mental disturbances