September 11, 2012

Healthy Living:
   Q&A about understanding Thyroid disorders and how to deal with it. Author: Dr A Toft CBE MD FRCP

Thyroid Illness:
    This section is compiled with curtsey of Family Doctor Series publications in association with the BMA.

    You are highly recommended to purchase a book titled "Understanding Thyroid Disorders" published in 1995. Price £2.49. Author: Dr A Toft CBE MD FRCP. You are strongly advised to consult your doctor for any medication.

    Q. What is Thyroid illness and how do I know that I have it?.
    A. Despite its small size gland it is an extremely important organ which controls our metabolism and it is responsible for the normal working of every cell in the body.
    Your GP can diagnose the condition with a simple blood test.
    Q. Who is affected and can it be treated?
    A. Thyroid disease often runs in families. Certain forms are asociated with an increased risk of developing diabetes or anaemia.

  1. Thyroid disease is common, affecting around one in 20 people.

  2. More women than men are affected.

  3. Treatment is usually successful, and even thyroid cancer can be cured if caught early.

  4. There are different types of Thyroid affecting different people.
    One type is Autoimmune disease which you'll probably need to take tablets for the rest of your life.

  5. Q. Do I have to change my diet?.
    A. Diet in the UK contains adequate amounts of iodine and you don't need to take supplements.
    Q. Is smoking harmful?
    A. Patients with hyperthyroidism due to Graves' disease should stop smoking.
    Q. Was stress responsible for making my thyroid gland overactive?
    A. There is now evidence that stress can affect the immune system which is abnormal in Graves' disease. So the answer is probably yes, but there are other important factors such as heredity.
    Q. Will my new baby have thyroid trouble?
    A. The children of mothers with Graves' disease may be born with an overactive thyroid gland. Occasionally mothers with hypothyroidism give birth to a child with an underactive thyroid gland. In both occasions, when disease is detected, treatment is done in few weeks.
    Q. Could my thyroid condition explain why I did badly in exams?
    A. It is likly to be hyperthyroidism which affects people taking exams. A reduced ability to concntrate will certainly lead to a substandard performance.
    Q. Could thyroid disease have caused my anxiety/depression?
    A. No. Although Hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism will make underlying psychiatric illness worse.
    Q. Will my Graves' disease recur?
    A. If your hyperthyroidism has benn effectively treated with iodine-131, it will never return. If hyperthyroidism has setteled after a single course of carbimazole there is a 30%-50% chance of recurrence, usually within one to two years of stopping the drug.
    Q. Does it matter if I forget to take my medicine?
    A. Symptoms of hypothyroidism due to lack of thyroxine are not usually felt for two to three weeks of stopping the tablets. However, this is not to be recomended. Also patients with hypothyroidism may have other autoimmune disease such as diabetes mellitus. Failure to take thyroxine regularly will affect the response to insulin and may lead to low unexpected coma due to a low blood sugar.
    Q. I feel better when I am taking a bigger dose of thyroxine than recommended by my doctor. Is this safe?
    A. Although by taking excessive thyroxine a sense of well-being, increased energy and even weight loss may be achieved in the short term, there are long-term dangers to the heart and possibility of increasing the rate of bone thinning and therefore encouraging the development of osteoporosis.
    Q. Can treatment for Graves' disease make me fat?
    A. No, although you wil probably put back any weight you lost before your condition was diagnosed and treated.
    Q. My daughter was put on thyroxine tablets at birth. Will she have to take them forever?
    A. Not necessarily. She will be taken off them after a blood test when she is about a year old.
    Q. Will test involving radioactivity affect my fertility?
    A. Definitely not. The amount of radioactivity involved is less than that in a x-ray.
    Q. Is the time of day when I take my thyroxine tablets important?
    A. No, but most people find it's better to take them at the same time each day.

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