HYPOTHYROIDISM – COMMON MYTHS AND FACTS

All over the world, third week of May is celebrated as World Thyroid awareness week and 25th May as World Thyroid Day. World Thyroid Day aims at increasing public awareness of thyroid diseases, namely the importance of their timely diagnosis and treatment.

Here we try to clear some of the most common misconceptions people have regarding a very common condition- Hypothyroidism. Approximately 1 in 10 Indian adults suffer from hypothyroidism, a condition in which the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormones to meet the needs of the body. This condition is twice as prevalent in women as in men and is common among women of child-bearing age.

  1. MYTH 1: Hypothyroidism is transmitted from one person to another through physical contact.

No. Hypothyroidism is not transmitted by physical contact from one person to another. It is neither caused by any particular diet nor stress. Most commonly, it is hereditary or due to iodine deficiency. Now since we all consume iodized salt, it is most of the time hereditary

  1. MYTH 2: Hypothyroid patients should not eat cauliflower, cabbage, or broccoli.

No. Hypothyroid patients can definitely eat cauliflower, cabbage and broccoli. This is one of the most common myth people have. Since cauliflower and broccoli contain very small amounts of goitrogens, one has to consume these vegetables in huge quantities and on a daily basis, if it has to affect the thyroid function. Since we usually do not consume these in such huge quantities, eating them will definitely not cause any harm to your thyroid status.

  1. MYTH 3: Women with hypothyroidism cannot become pregnant.

Absolutely false. Women who are hypothyroid can definitely become pregnant. It is very important that Hypothyroid women take the thyroid tablet as advised by their doctor and once their thyroid hormone levels are normal, they can plan their pregnancy.

  1. MYTH 4: Thyroid medications has side effects and can affect my kidneys or heart

No. Levothyroxine – the drug used to treat hypothyroidism is absolutely safe and has no side effects. If taken in the right dose, it does not affect the kidneys, heart or any other organ in the body. In fact, taking the tablet will help in proper functioning of the organs, because thyroid hormone is needed for optimal functioning of almost all organs of the body.

  1. MYTH 5: Exercise and yoga will help cure my thyroid problem

No. Exercise and yoga are good for your general health, but have no role in the treatment of hypothyroidism. There is no particular exercise or yoga that will help prevent or cure your thyroid problem.

  1. MYTH 6: I can take my tablet along with tea in the morning.

The absorption of thyroid tablet in the stomach is decreased by taking it along with tea, coffee or food. Hence, it is best to take the tablet on empty stomach and not to eat or drink anything except water for the next one hour.

  1. MYTH 7: I can stop the tablet once my reports are normal.

No. You should consult your doctor regarding continuation of medicine. In 10 to 15 % of cases, after doing certain tests, your doctor may be able to stop your medications. But in most cases, the thyroid tablet has to be taken lifelong. Therefore, never stop your thyroid medicine without consulting your doctor.

  1. MYTH 8: I am scared this hypothyroidism will affect my quality of life and my lifespan.

No absolutely not. Hypothyroidism is a very benign condition. It is nothing to be worried or be scared of. It does not lead to mortality. If you take your tablets regularly and keep your thyroid hormone levels within normal range, it will not affect you in any way.

  1. MYTH 9: Since I have hypothyroidism, I will not be able to lose weight

No. Hypothyroidism leads to a weight gain of 2 to 4 kgs only. So with thyroid medication you will lose this extra weight. Most of the time, obesity is due to excessive food intake and lack of physical activity. So, for further weight loss- you should follow strict diet and exercise. Hypothyroidism will definitely not stop you from losing weight.

Dr Vikrant Ghatnatti,

Consultant Endocrinologist, KLES Dr. Prabhakar Kore Hospital and Medical Research centre, Belgaum- 590010.

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