December 1, 2023

Have you noticed sudden changes in your weight even if you are not following a strict diet regimen?

The problem could be in your thyroid glands – a butterfly-shaped gland that sits on the front of the neck below the Adam’s apple. The hormones released by the thyroid gland regulates body functions such as the heart rate, body temperature, muscle strength, cholesterol levels, menstrual cycles, nervous system, body weight, and breathing.

Doctors Endenna Solang-Andaya and Jerleen Jill Epler of the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center said there are about 350 million people worldwide who have thyroid disorders but up 50 percent are undiagnosed due to symptoms commonly confused with those of other conditions.

Diseases associated with having a thyroid disorder are goiter, hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, and thyroid cancer.

Hypothyroidism is a condition where the thyroid glands cannot produce enough thyroxine hormones.

Lack of thyroxine slows down metabolism resulting in weight gain, cold intolerance, decreased sweating, depression and irritability, constipation, irregular and heavy periods, fatigue, insomnia, hair loss, slow heart rate, muscle or joint pain, puffy face, and brittle nails.

Hyperthyroidism, on the other hand, is the overproduction of thyroid hormones and which speeds up metabolism, resulting in sudden weightloss, short and light periods, increased sweating, fatigue, insomnia, hair loss, nail thickening and flaking, diarrhea, racing heart, and muscle weakness.

To treat those with the hypo or hyperthyroidism, a diagnostic test called T4 and TSH is first done to check if there is an over or underproduction of the thyroxine or the thyroid hormones.

Medications to replace or decrease thyroxine will be prescribed if an individual has hyper or hypothyroidism.

To detect early the presence of goiter or tumor, doctors recommend conducting a neck check.

Andaya said the neck check can be done at home by standing in front of the mirror, tip your head back, swallow water, and as you swallow, check for any bulges.

If there are any bulges, consult a doctor for further tests, Andaya added. – Rimaliza A. Opiña