6 cold weather survival tips from thyroid
The most common cause of hypothyroidism worldwide is often cited due to the iodine deficiency in an individual’s body. But India is in a...
300 million people worldwide suffer from thyroid dysfunction yet over half are unaware of their condition- International Thyroid Federation Are you dogged by cold hands and feet this winter? Is it because of the extreme winter cold or something else? You might be suffering from thyroid disorder. SRL Diagnostics, a leading global diagnostics chain, claims that this butterfly-shaped gland in the neck plays a vital role for the body, including helping it to stay warm.
A study published in Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism revealed that the nationwide prevalence of thyroid disorders, particularly hypothyroidism, is found in at least one in every 10 adults residing in various urban cities that represent diverse geographical regions of India. Along with that female gender and old age were found to have significant association with hypothyroidism. The symptoms of hypothyroidism include fatigue, unexplained weight gain, dry skin, puffy face, hoarseness, constipation and increased sensitivity to cold.
Dr BR Das, President - Research and Innovation, Mentor - Molecular Pathology and Clinical Research Service of SRL Diagnostics says, “Thyroid hormones act throughout the body, stimulate diverse metabolic activities in most tissues, leading to an increase in metabolic rates, and also affect growth, development and body temperatures.”
“The thyroid and the pituitary glands work together as a heater and a thermostat respectively. When the thyroid gland — the heater — shuts off and the body gets cold, the pituitary — the thermostat — produces more of thyroid stimulating hormone, or TSH. As long as the thyroid is functioning properly, it will respond to the pituitary’s release of TSH and produce more of its own hormones, known as T4, to heat up the body. This body-temperature-regulating balance between the two glands explains why people who do not produce enough thyroid hormone and may feel more sensitive to cold,” added Dr BR Das.
The most common cause of hypothyroidism worldwide is often cited due to the iodine deficiency in an individual’s body. But India is in a post-iodisation phase, so it's more concerning that such cases are prevalent here. There is a link between winters and deficiencies in iodine as TSH levels are somewhat higher in the winter than in the summer because the body needs to generate more thyroid hormone to regulate the temperature control within the body.
The factors that increases the risks of thyroid disease are family history of thyroid disease, type I diabetes, age, stress, thyroid surgery performed previously and Down’s or Turner’s syndrome. Women are more susceptible to thyroid problems than men especially during delivery and menopause. Older overweight females seem to be more prone.
Iodine intake ceases to be the sole etiological contender for thyroid disorders in urban areas.
If an individual is diagnosed with thyroid disease, it is important to follow the doctor’s instructions thoroughly. If left untreated, thyroid problems can lead to stroke, heart disease, infertility, Alzheimer’s and ultimately death.
SRL Diagnostics, thus recommends 8 Cold weather survival tips from thyroid disorder this winter:
Get your thyroid levels checked: At SRL Diagnostics, Thyroid is diagnosed by tests like Thyroid profile which measure your Thyroid stimulating hormone or TSH. High TSH levels indicate hypothyroidism, and low TSH levels indicate hyperthyroidism
Tune up your thyroid: According to SRL Diagnostics, TSH reference range (0.3 to 4.5 or so) is normal, TSH levels above this range is not optimal, and require further assessment, more in-depth blood testing, and evaluation of symptoms. After the age of 35, one should ideally get screened for thyroid dysfunction once every five years. If you exhibit any of the symptoms or risk factors mentioned above, then you should get yourself screened more often
Start exercising: Cold weather blues may make you less likely to work out, but there's no better time to begin a regular program of exercise
Get some sunlight every day: There's evidence that exposure to sunlight affects hormones that have an impact on both brain chemistry and the endocrine system. Even if you don't suffer from a "seasonal affective disorder" 20 to 30 minutes a day of outdoor light exposure can help ward off fatigue and depression
Eat Iodine rich food & less sugar: While a cold day may increase your craving for hot chocolate and cookies, but that may be the worst thing you can do. Eating foods rich in nutrients like Iodine and Selenium like iodised salt and vegetables like spinach, garlic and sesame are highly recommendable. Foods like fish, meat, mushrooms, sunflower seeds and soybeans can fulfill your selenium requirement
Get enough sleep: The typical adult without a thyroid problem need seven to eight hours of sleep, many thyroid patients even more. And in the winter, our bodies seem to need even a bit more than the standard resting time.