Thyroid Disease & Pregnancy

I’m Dr. Manjunath Malige, a Consultant Endocrinologist. On the eve of this world thyroid day, I’d like to share the information about thyroid abnormalities. The thyroid, as you all know, is a very important Endocrine gland in the body. It is situated in front of the neck in the shape of a butterfly and secrets a vital hormone called thyroid hormone. This hormone literally for the proper functioning of almost all systems of the body, particularly the heart and brain. This is also important for the development of a baby and also for good pregnancy outcomes in humans. Now there are two things I would like to talk about. These are the two ends of the spectrum. On one side of the spectrum, we have what we called as Hypothyroidism or what we call an underactive thyroid. This means that for some reason, one’s thyroid is not producing enough thyroid hormone, so there is thyroid hormone deficiency.  

On the other end of the spectrum, we have hyperthyroidism, which means one’s thyroid will be produced in excess thyroid than the body needs. Now obviously, these two conditions have significant implications on one’s health.

Now coming to the more common one, which is hypothyroidism or underactive thyroid. As I said, this is because the thyroid gland is not able to produce enough thyroid hormones. The most common cause of this is an abnormal protein in the blood, called thyroid antibodies. When this happens, the patients develop quite a few symptoms: weight gain, hair loss, dry skin, cold sensation, and hoarseness of voice. And in women, irregular periods and pregnancy loss. This hormone is very important during pregnancy because it is directly related to the brain and the development of the brain in the baby. This is the most common condition in endocrinology. It can be diagnosed very quickly with a simple blood test. And even more easily treated just by a single tablet. So what we essentially do here is, replace the thyroid hormone, which is missing in the form of a tablet. It is safe and free from any side effects and is used by millions of people worldwide. 

So if someone has any of these symptoms, which I just mentioned, it is advisable to have a blood test done for thyroid hormone and see your endocrinologist. 

Coming to the other end of the spectrum, we have hyperthyroidism or overactive thyroid. So as I mention, there is an excess of thyroid hormone production in this situation. And as a result, the patient presents with a different set of symptoms, predominantly weight loss, anxiety, palpitations, the sensation of the heart racing faster, prominent eyes, and shaky arms. Again it is advisable to get the thyroid function tests done immediately and to see your endocrinologist. Tablets can treat this condition, and if there is an enlarged thyroid gland in front of the neck, one might need an operation or surgery to take away the thyroid gland. If surgery is not an option, we have this Radioactive Iodine treatment that can be given, so it is essential to diagnose these conditions and treat them appropriately for better health. Thank you very much.

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