Thyroid Awareness Month: Expert debunks common myths about thyroid disease
- It is possible to manage thyroid with certain dietary changes. Myth or fact? An expert dispels popular thyroid myths.
Thyroid imbalance can affect your health and well-being in a number of ways. Thyroid, a small butterfly-shaped gland situated in the front of the neck, plays a crucial role in making hormones that help our body function normally.
When your body makes very little thyroid the condition is called hypothyroidism. If you constantly feel tired, are overweight and unable to tolerate cold temperatures, you may have an underactive thyroid. On the other hand, in case of hyperthyroidism when the body makes too much thyroid hormone, one tends to lose weight, experience anxiety, has trouble with sleep, has irregular periods and feels sensitive to heat.
Iodine plays an important role in normal thyroid gland function and eating foods like fish, dairy products and iodized salt can help in staying away from thyroid-related problems. Disorders of the thyroid gland also include thyroid swelling (goitre) and benign and malignant (cancerous) nodules of the thyroid gland.
On the occasion of Thyroid Awareness Month, Dr Raman Boddula, Consultant Endocrinologist, Yashoda Hospitals Hyderabad debunks some popular myths about thyroid disease.
Myth 1: Hypothyroidism is a disorder of middle-aged women.
Fact: Hypothyroidism can affect a person of any age and gender. In fact, congenital hypothyroidism can affect a child even before birth during intrauterine life. As normal thyroid function is essential for brain development. So, you should insist on your paediatrician for a thyroid screen of the newborn baby even if he or she doesn’t have any problem at birth.
Myth 2: All patients with thyroid problems develop goitre.
Fact: In fact, most patients with thyroid problem doesn’t develop goitre nowadays in part due to iodine fortification of salts. You should not wait for goitre to happen until you get tested. If you have any symptoms indicating hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism then you should get tested yourself.
Myth 3: I can’t lose weight if I have hypothyroidism.
Fact: If your hypothyroidism is well controlled, it does not affect the ability to lose weight.
Myth 4: Once my TSH is normal, I can stop taking levothyroxine tablets.
Fact: Your TSH report is normal because you are regularly using levothyroxine tablets. Most patients with hypothyroidism require lifelong levothyroxine (T4) replacement with adjustment of dosages at intervals advised by your Endocrinologist.
Myth 5: Hypothyroidism can be managed with the regulation of diet.
Fact: No modification of diet alone can bring back your thyroid hormone to normalcy. Hypothyroidism requires levothyroxine replacement and it has virtually no side effects if taken according to the advice of an Endocrinologist.
Myth 6: Consumption of Vegetables of Brassica family like cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, etc can cause goitre and hypothyroidism.
Fact: A person with hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism can have the same diet as any other person. Cooked consumption of these vegetables does not have an effect on the thyroid. When taken in moderation, even raw consumption of these vegetables would not cause thyroid problems.
Myth 7: A lump or nodule in the thyroid means cancer.
Fact: The majority of thyroid nodules are benign and, on average, only 5% of nodules turned out to be malignant. Depending on the requirement, your Endocrinologist may advise you to undergo ultrasonography of thyroid nodule, and if required further, a needle test of nodule might be advised.
Myth 8: Thyroid cancer is not curable.
Fact: Most thyroid cancer, if detected early, are easily curable with thyroid surgery and radioiodine treatment. In general, also a common type of thyroid cancer has a benign course compared to other cancers.
Myth 9: Being hypothyroid, I can’t become pregnant.
Fact: With good control of hypothyroidism, you can easily plan pregnancy although it requires frequent monitoring.
Myth 10: If I have goitre, surgery is a must for me.
Fact: Surgery is required in certain situations like when goitre is hampering swallowing or breathing or can be done for cosmetic purposes. Medically it is not required in every case of goitre. Goitre may reduce to some extent or may not reduce at all with medication depending on its duration.