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Experts concerned over surge in thyroid disease in India

Shardul Nautiyal, Mumbai
Tuesday, May 30, 2023, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

With thyroid disease on the rise in India, experts inform about the availability of adequate medical interventions in urban areas such as hormone replacement therapy, anti-thyroid medications and surgery. However, getting the proper thyroid care is a big problem in rural areas.

“Regular monitoring and follow-up with healthcare professionals are also crucial to ensure appropriate treatment and effective management of thyroid disorders,” experts recommend.

Talking about the incidence and clinical aspects of the disease, Dr Arpandev Bhattacharyya, consultant, diabetes and endocrinology, Bengaluru informs, “Among the various health conditions prevailing in our country, thyroid disease is one of the most common problems. Its development is influenced by lack of iodine, autoimmunity and hereditary predisposition. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), thyroid disease affects 42 to 45 million individuals in India. Certainly, as in the rest of the world this is more common in women than men.”

Dr Bhattacharyya further adds that thyroid gland plays an essential function in our general health. It generates thyroid hormones, which control metabolism and impact vital physiologic processes such as heart rate, body temperature and energy levels. Untreated, unmonitored thyroid disorders like hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism have significant morbidity and mortality. Not to forget cancer can affect the thyroid gland as well.

The iodine deficiency can result in a shortage of essential nutrients, leading to malfunction of the thyroid gland. Surprisingly, nearly 50% of individuals suffering from it in India are unaware of their condition, emphasising the urgent need for heightened awareness and early detection.

Talking about the challenges, Dr Kunal Thakkar, consultant, endocrinology, Gujarat informs, “One of the concerns in rural areas is the unavailability of the proper course of medicines and doctors. The cost of treatment for thyroid problems can also be a problem for people with limited financial resources. Surveys have shown that about 13 percent of people over 60 years old have thyroid problems, while around five percent of people under 19 years old also have thyroid issues.”

Echoing similar views, Dr Bhattacharyya further says, “The growing awareness about thyroid has resulted in a rise in demand for effective thyroid therapy in India. Failure to manage the same can lead to severe problems such as heart disease, osteoporosis and infertility. As a result, people diagnosed with thyroid must receive proper therapy, which frequently includes a combination of medication and lifestyle changes.”

According to Dr. Amitabh Sur, consultant endocrinologist, RG Kar Medical College & Hospital and IPGMER & SSKM Hospital, “Thyroid disorders impact many individuals globally and it is essential to comprehend the preventive measures and care required to maintain a healthy gland. The thyroid gland, situated in the neck, is responsible for regulating vital bodily functions like metabolism, growth, and development. There are mainly two conditions called hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. In hyperthyroidism, the thyroid gland produces excessive thyroid hormones, while hypothyroidism occurs when the gland is underactive and has an insufficient amount of these hormones. Common symptoms of hyperthyroidism include weight loss, increased appetite, rapid heartbeat, anxiety, irritability, trembling hands, and difficulty sleeping.”

Dr Sur concludes that adequate iodine levels are critical for thyroid function. Iodine-rich foods such as seaweed, shellfish, and dairy products might benefit your diet. Furthermore, eating a well-balanced diet rich in whole grains, lean meats, and fruits is critical for general health and thyroid function. Engaging in stress-reducing activities such as meditation, Yoga, or pursuing hobbies can promote overall well-being and support a healthy thyroid.


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