We have all learnt about the thyroid gland—a small butterfly-shaped gland at the base of your throat. Small it may be, but it plays a great role in keeping your bodies healthy. Be it your appetite, moods or energy levels, the thyroid gland is a game changer.
According to a new report released by global diagnostic chain SRL diagnostics, nearly 32 per cent of Indians suffer from various kinds of thyroid problems. The analysis is based on in-house data collected from over 33 lakh adults pan India from 2014-2016. Studies also show that thyroid disorders are more prevalent in women than men. “For every 8 women who face thyroid disorders, only 2 men face the same,” says Dr Manjunath Malige, endocrinologist at Fortis Hospitals, Bengaluru. Thyroid, the largest endocrine gland in the body, produces two hormones—T3 and T4. The gland malfunctions in mainly two ways—hypothyroidism (low thyroid hormone production) and hyperthyroidism (high hormone production), the first being more common.
While you may not really pay attention when your thyroid gland is functioning effectively, you will surely sit up and take notice when it starts to malfunction. Here are a few symptoms of hypothyroidism and body changes you need to watch out for.
1. You are tired all the time: With an underactive thyroid gland, your energy levels can really go down. “You feel tired and exhausted most of the time. This is one of the most common first symptoms of hypothyroidism,” says Malige. Thyroid is like a master gland that keeps your metabolism, and your body running. So, if your thyroid slows down, it can affect the system as a whole, triggering fatigue.
2. You are putting on weight: You are on a healthy diet, and sticking to your workout routine. Yet you are still putting on weight. "It may not be an unnatural weight gain, but when you notice this happening despite a healthy lifestyle, it is good to keep a check on thyroid levels,” says Malige.
3. Your skin turns very dry: An underactive thyroid affects the rate at which our body sheds old skin, making the skin feel rough and dry. During summer, you end up having dry skin and even moisturisers don't help moisturise the skin. This is yet another common symptom of hypothyroidism. Besides dry skin, hair fall is also an associated symptom to watch out for.
4. You may have irregular periods: “Irregular periods in women due to hypothyroidism is also a very common symptom,” says Malige. With hormonal changes like those in thyroid disorders, menstrual cycles can go for a toss. For instance, periods could become irregular, and the bleeding can either be excessive or lesser than usual.
5. You may forget things often: Memory loss due to hypothyroidism may not be like classical memory loss in cases of dementia or Alzheimer's. “People can make out that their performance at workplace has significantly reduced, they are finding it difficult to focus, and perform tasks they were handling well in the past,” adds Malige.
Hypothyroidism can affect any age groups, but is usually seen between age groups of 20 to 60 years. If you notice these symptoms, consult an endocrinologist and further test your thyroid hormone levels.