Doctors have found an increasing incidence of hypothyroidism among Indians with approximately 42 million people suffering from the ailment.

While hypothyroidism is prevalent among both men and women, it is more common among the latter. In fact, 60 percent women are ailing from this condition.

What is hyperthyroidism?
Hyperthyroidism means your thyroid gland, in front of your neck is not functioning properly. This can lead to shifting weight quickly, a fast heartbeat, sweating, can trigger nervousness and mood swings. If not treated timely, hypothyroidism can cause serious heart problems, bone problems, elevated cholesterol levels, spike in blood pressure, infertility and depression.

Hypothyroidism in pregnant women has been associated with many complications and if left untreated could lead to pre-eclampsia, pre-term labour and post-partum haemorrhage. For the babies too, there are risks of foetal distress and congenital abnormalities.

Principal Investigator of the study A G Unnikrishnan said, “Thyroid disorders in India are characterized by a high prevalence, minimal diagnosis, poor awareness and low involvement of doctors in treatment. There is a growing urgency to create awareness of thyroid disorders, the need for early and regular diagnosis and the importance of following a recommended treatment regime.”

Nationwide survey
In order to assess the prevalence of hypothyroidism in the country, Abbott India surveyed 5,376 people. The study found nearly 10.95 percent of the respondents were suffering from the endocrine disease.

People in the elderly age bracket (above 35 years) appeared to be at an elevated risk of hypothyroidism as opposed to the than the younger generation. It was noted that women were more susceptible to hypothyroidism than men (15.86 percent vs 5.02 percent). The risk was especially more pronounced for those in mid-life age between 46-54 years.

“Our objective of undertaking a nation-wide comprehensive epidemiological study is to get a true picture of the evolving profile of thyroid disorders in the post iodization phase in India. By partnering with various stakeholders, Abbott is seeking to advance understanding, increase awareness and support proper diagnosis of thyroid disorders in our country,” Abbott India Managing Director Rehan A Khan said.

Geographical location
Geographical location also has a bearing on the incidence of the disease. It was noted the hypothyroidism was more rampant in regions situated away from the sea than coastal locations.

The study found that hypothyroidism was more common in inland cities such as Bangalore, Delhi, Kolkata, Ahmedabad and Hyderabad (11.73 percent) compared to coastal locations such as the city, Goa and Chennai. Kolkata recorded the highest occurrence of hypothyroidism (21.67 percent). Experts theorize the seafood diet of coastal people may be shielding the people from the disease.

A G Unnikrishnan stated, “It is just a theory and not a proven fact, but we believe that people in coastal areas have a lower risk of hypothyroidism because of iodine-rich diet. Iodine is found in the head portion of fish and is an element required in the production of thyroid hormone.”

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