Ufaq Fatima

Reasons unknown, but hypothyroidism among women on rise in valley

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Srinagar, Oct 26: Almost unknown until a couple of decades back, endocrine disorders and clinical hypothyroidism in particular are now very common in Kashmir, especially among the women.

Clinical hypothyroidism is a complex hormonal disorder in which the thyroid gland in throat remains underactive and produces less amount of thyroxine hormone which is important for various metabolic activities of human body.

Arzoo Jan was eight-years-old when she was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. The symptoms she had included fatigue and general weakness.

“When I was in school I used to feel very tired all the time which took a toll on my studies. Later I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. After that I was put on medication which continues even today,” said Arzoo, who is 18 now.

Prolonged and untreated hypothyroidism can have an adverse effect on the functioning of the body like slow metabolism, mental health issues, and stomach bloating, menstrual changes among women, dry skin, generalized aches and pains, impaired hearing and risk to pregnancy.

Being the hormonal disorder, hypothyroidism also leads to disturbed puberty, especially in young girls.

“I was very young when this disorder started. So it also disturbed my menstrual cycles. I often have irregular cycles,” Arzoo added.

Clinical hypothyroidism is a complex hormonal disorder in which the thyroid gland in throat remains underactive and produces less amount of thyroxine hormone which is important for various metabolic activities of human body.

Experts have varied opinions about what actually leads to hypothyroidism but till now the exact and definitive cause is unknown in medical sciences. There are various theories that doctors believe to be the reason for hypothyroidism.

“It is a very tricky hormonal disorder. There are many hypotheses given on what actually leads to clinical hypothyroidism but the most agreed one is the imbalanced iodine intake. Too much, as well as too little iodine can cause thyroid problems,” said Dr Shahnawaz Mir, Consultant Endocrinologist at Government Medical College (GMC), Srinagar.

When asked about the increase in hypothyroidism cases in Kashmir, he said earlier people were not aware of the testing procedures. However, presently people frequently go for thyroid testing which can be the reason why it is more visible now.

Not only young girls, many pregnant women too are suffering from hypothyroidism. Such prolonged condition can cause risk to pregnancy too.

Rehana, 36, was diagnosed with hypothyroidism when she was expecting her third child. “My third pregnancy was very complicated. I had frequent heartache, breathlessness, and shivering.  I also lost body weight. Fortunately, I got to know about the disorder at an early stage of my pregnancy and went on proper medication,” she said

Dr Shahnawaz terms the testing of thyroid before pregnancy very important for proper development of the fetus.

“Women with hypothyroidism should first seek medical advice before planning to have a baby. As the baby entirely depends on mother’s thyroxin hormone, deficiency of which can lead to underdeveloped brain formation in baby,” he said adding that pregnant women with hypothyroidism have more chances of abortion if treatment is not followed properly.

“Some people believe that hypothyroidism causes infertility in women but that is not the case. Such a patient can have normal reproductive functions if treatment is done on time and with consistency,” he added.

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