Feel Tired Often? It May Be Thyroid
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24 MAy 2010
An estimated 4.2 crore people in India suffer from thyroid disorders.
"What is even more alarming is that almost 90% of the people suffering from thyroid disorders have not been diagnosed," Dr RV Jayakumar, president, Indian Thyroid Society, said. "Countrywide studies have shown that only 10–12% of the total number of people suffering from thyroid disorders is currently under medication."
The problem, he said, is the lack of awareness about thyroid conditions. "But now, with our economic status improving and with diseases like malaria and TB slowly being brought under control, it is time for us to focus on problems like thyroid disorders," Jayakumar said.
Endocrinologists in the city say that thyroid disorders are not easy to detect as the symptoms are vague. "Patients come with complaints like ‘I am feeling lazy’, or ‘I don’t feel like getting out of bed in the morning’. It is tough for a general physician to zero in on a diagnosis based on such complaints," endocrinologist Dr Shrikant Wadhwe said.
"There are no definite symptoms. Most people seek advice when they notice a swelling in the neck," said Dr HB Chandalia, senior consultant endocrinologist, Jaslok and Breach Candy hospitals. Smita Karunakaran, 17, had no symptom other than a swelling in the neck. "The doctor suggested that I should undergo a thyroid test," Karunakaran said. She has been under medication and yoga for hypothyroidism since December 2008.
Rituja Lamba, a 28–year–old call centre employee, was obsessed about her increasing weight. However, not once she had thought that thyroid disorder could be the cause of her worries. "I gained more than 10kg in six months. And although I tried hard to lose weight, I just couldn‘t," Lamba said.
For Byculla homemaker Saima Kazmi, 45, it took an emergency visit to the hospital after she had collapsed all of a sudden in her house to be diagnosed with hypothyroidism. "Who would have thought that a tiny gland located in the neck produces the hormones that control your life," Kazmi said.
Thyroid disorder is six times more common in women than men. "Another important fact that doctors need to remember is that almost 15–20% of women over 50 years of age suffer from thyroid disorders," Dr Chandalia said.
He should know for he sees about 10 patients suffering from thyroid related complaints daily.