Observed on May 25, World Thyroid Day is celebrated every year to raise awareness about the thyroid diseases, its study, symptoms, prevention and treatment. The key significance of celebrating this day is to make people suffering from thyroid diseases more aware about their health condition. This year on World Thyroid Day 2022, Thyroid Federation International has announced the theme ‘It’s not you. It’s your thyroid’.
Thyroid is a gland (a small organ) which is located in front of the neck and is wrapped around the windpipe. The gland has a butterfly-like structure which is smaller in the middle along with two wide wings that extend around the side of your throat. The thyroid gland creates and releases hormones that are responsible for controlling many vital functions in the body, such as metabolism. The thyroid hormone represents the combination of two other hormones, namely thyroxine (T3) and triiodothyronine (T4). While T4 is an inactive hormone (does not impact the cells), T3 is active.
Mostly people suffering from hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism face difficulties in digestion, sleep, blood pressure, etc. Therefore, the aim of celebrating World Thyroid Day is to raise awareness, through appropriate access to education, about the importance of optimal functioning of the thyroid gland throughout life.
May 25, as World Thyroid Day 2022 assumes special significance amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Thyroid diseases these days are on the rise and thus awareness about it is important as it impacts an individual’s body functions along with mood on a daily basis. Therefore, it becomes necessary to understand the issues related to thyroid and the measures that can be taken to tackle it.
World Thyroid Day 2022 celebration came into existence in 2008 on a proposal by the European Thyroid Association (ETA). As per Public Health Update report, globally more than 200 million people in the world are estimated to be dealing with thyroid disorders while more than 50% of these cases remain undiagnosed. As far as the history of this day is concerned, during the annual general meeting which was held prior to the European Thyroid Association (ETA) congress in September 2007, May 25 was officially adopted as World Thyroid Day Also, May 25 is also celebrated as the anniversary of ETA’s foundation in 1965. Hence, this day was chosen to create awareness about thyroid disorders.
Thyroid awareness month 2022 can be celebrated by following the below given three steps:
Step 1: Take the Thyroid Preventive Check At Home
Grab a hand-help mirror along with a glass of water. Focus on the lower front area of your neck, below the larynx (voice box) and above the collarbone. This is where the thyroid gland is located in the body. While focussing on this area, lean your head back and sip water. As you swallow, observe your neck and check for any protrusions and bulges. If you are not able to notice any bulges, you should see a physician. No traces of bulges represent enlarged thyroid gland or presence of thyroid nodule.
Step 2: Encourage Near and Dear ones to get Tested
If you have noticed that your friend or any family member has been feeling cold a lot of the time, and face difficulty in sleeping or swallowing, it is time that they should consult a doctor as all these are symptoms of thyroid dysfunctions. Get them tested for thyroid from a trusted healthcare partner to get the issue resolved quickly.
Step 3: Make a donation
If you are reading this article, there might be a possibility that you or someone dear to you might be suffering from thyroid disorders. Thus, you can celebrate World Thyroid Day by making a donation to one of the many treatment and research institutions near to your area so that you can lend support and help in spreading awareness.
When your thyroid works properly, it will maintain the right amount of hormones to keep your metabolism working at the right rate. As the hormones are used, the thyroid creates replacements. This activity of hormone secretion by thyroid gland is supervised (controlled and monitored) by the pituitary gland. When the pituitary gland observes that there is a lack of thyroid hormones or increased-level of hormones in your body, it will secrete thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) to adjust the thyroid hormone levels in the body. However, when your thyroid does not work properly, it can either release too much thyroid hormone, developing a condition called hyperthyroidism or release too little hormone, leading to hypothyroidism. Both are serious conditions and require the intervention of your healthcare provider.
While people with thyroid problems may experience multiple symptoms, they may not always know that thyroid gland is to blame. Despite the thyroid gland being relatively small compared to other organs of the body, it has significant responsibilities. Thus, if you are experiencing any of the below given symptoms, there are high chances that you are suffering from thyroid disorder and might require immediate medical help:
- Depression, irritability, nervousness
- Muscle weakness
- Increased sensitivity to cold
- Pale, dull and dry skin
- Unexplained weight loss or weight gain
- Forgetfulness or dilemma
- Fatigue and sluggishness
- Menstrual irregularities
- Pain around collarbone and neck
As mentioned above, there are two main types of thyroid diseases, including hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. Both conditions can be caused due to multiple reasons. A few of the main causes of thyroid are enlisted below:
Thyroiditis: In this condition, the thyroid glands get inflamed. It can lower the amount of thyroid hormones in the body leading to any of the two thyroid disorders.
Iodine deficiency: Iodine is used by thyroid to produce hormones. However, if the body faces iodine deficiency, it can lead to hyperthyroidism.
Postpartum thyroiditis: This condition is prevalent in 5-9% women who have recently given birth to a child. However, it is a temporary condition and mostly fades with them if proper care is taken.
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis: It is a painless autoimmune condition where the body cells attack and damage the thyroid. This is mostly an inherited condition and quite common among the young people.
There are plenty of foods that help in regulating the proper functioning of the thyroid gland. Let’s take a quick look at them:
- Iodized salt: This kind of salt is rich in iodine therefore the thyroid gland can absorb iodine and produce the required hormone in the body.
- Brazil nuts: These nuts are rich in selenium which is responsible for increasing the metabolism of thyroid hormone as well as antioxidant functions.
- Sunflower seeds: Much like brazil nuts, sunflower seeds are also rich in selenium.
- Sardines: It is a type of sea fish which is rich in Omega 3 fatty acids which boosts immunity. Thus, sardines reduce the risk of chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis.
- Flax seeds: These are also rich in Omega 3 fatty acids and iron which helps in efficient transportation of oxygen to different body organs along with regulation of hormones.
- Greek Yoghurt: It is a rich source of iodine and vitamin D. While iodine increases the thyroid hormone production, vitamin D helps in the regulation of the immune system.
- Seaweed: It is considered as one of the richest iodine sources which can regulate thyroid levels in the body to a great extent. However, it should be consumed in little amounts as per direction.
- Eggs: Eggs are packed with iodine, omega 3 fatty acids and selenium which helps the thyroid gland and immune system to function efficiently.
- Apples: This fruit is also loaded with iodine which can help to increase the thyroid metabolism and regulates overall health of the body.
- Chicken: As you already know, chicken is a great source of protein and loaded with zinc which helps in the regulation of thyroid hormone in the body.
Fortunately, you do not have to avoid much food if you are suffering from thyroid issues. However, food containing goitrogens and excessive fat should be avoided. Highly processed food usually contains a lot of calories, thus it can cause weight gain easily. Here is a list of food and supplements that you should avoid if you are suffering from thyroid dysfunctions:
- All varieties of millets
- Highly processed foods, including cakes, cookies, hot dogs
- Excessive supplements (except selenium supplements)
Also, here is a list of foods you can eat in moderation or should not be consumed in large amounts:
- Beverages: Coffee, alcohol, green tea, etc.
- Fruits like peaches, strawberries and pears
- Soy-based foods, including tofu, beans, milk, etc.
Thyroid disorders are very common these days which need regular treatment and medications. However, some lifestyle changes along with yoga asanas, including Sarvangasana, Halasana, Matsyasana, Ustrasana, Bhujangasana have proved to be beneficial in reducing thyroid disorders. Therefore, this thyroid day try out the below yoga poses and enrich the secretion of thyroid hormone in the body naturally:
Sarvangasana: It helps in maintaining the endocrine system and exerts pressure on the thyroid gland.
Ustrasana: It stimulates the thyroid gland by stretching the neck and increasing blood circulation in the gland.
Halasana: It helps in strengthening abdominal muscles and back muscles along with stimulating the thyroid glands.
Matsyasana: It makes your back arch in a way that it increases blood circulation in the thyroid gland. Bhujangasana: This pose stretches the neck and throat region, thereby increasing thyroid functioning.