Ms. S. aged 36 years came with complaints of loss of weight and mild fever. She had consulted many doctors who were unable to understand the cause and finally, a physician had her thyroid function tests done which showed that she had high values of thyroid hormones. She was very worried and consulted us to know more about the condition.
I explained to her that the thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped endocrine (meaning ductless) gland, located at the base of the neck. It is a part of an intricate network of the endocrine system, which secretes hormones directly into the bloodstream. The endocrine system is responsible for coordinating many of the body’s activities, including metabolism.
Ms. S had a troubled look, and she asked me why this condition occurs.
This disorder arises when the thyroid gland produces hormones in excess, called hyperthyroidism.
The thyroid gland produces the thyroid hormone, which controls many activities in your body, including how fast you burn calories and how fast your heart beats. Depending on how much or how little hormone your thyroid makes, you may often feel restless or tired, or you may lose or gain weight. Women are more likely than men to have thyroid diseases, especially right after pregnancy and after menopause.
I also explained to Ms. S the symptoms of hyperthyroidism. In her case, the thyroid gland is overactive. It produces hormones in abundance. It affects about 1% of women and is it is less common in men. Excessive thyroid hormone production leads to symptoms such as:
• Racing heart
• Increased sweating
• Trouble sleeping
• Thin skin
• Brittle hair and nails
• Muscle weakness
• Weight loss
• Bulging eyes (in Graves’ disease)
She confirmed that she experiences most of the symptoms and was worried if she would be fine and wanted to know the course of action.
I informed her that she needs to get a nuclear scan first, which differentiates Hashimoto’s thyroiditis form Graves hyperthyroidism.
Hashimoto’s disease is also known as chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis. It can occur at any age, but it’s most common in middle-aged women. The disease occurs when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the thyroid gland
Graves’ disease is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism, an autoimmune disorder that occurs when the body’s immune system attacks the thyroid gland. This can cause the gland to overproduce the hormone responsible for regulating metabolism.
Ms S had a Tc scan done the same day and came back to show it to me. I offered her two options of therapy, the anti-thyroid tablets or radio ablation. For hyperthyroidism, anti-thyroid medications gradually reduce the symptoms and control the gland from over-producing the hormones. If the thyroid hormone is prescribed, it is important to take the correct dose. In rare cases, your thyroid can become overactive if you consume foods that contain iodine, such as table salt, fish, and seaweed.
She opted to go for the radio ablation as she had completed her family and had a child 10 years of age, so I agreed to her decision.
4 months later, a beaming Ms. S walked into my office. She was back to her normal health and had sprung back to her work as well.
While it may be difficult to prevent thyroid diseases, you can prevent its complications by getting diagnosed immediately after you notice a change in the way your body functions and following the treatment that your doctor prescribes.