Even as the state health department is trying to stress upon screening for non-communicable diseases, Hypothyroidism is a common concern in adults in the city. As per a recent study by Abbott, 9.77 percent adults suffer from hypothyroidism and more than 2 percent these cases remain undiagnosed.
The prevalence rate is quite close to the total prevalence rate in the country which is about 10.95 percent. The study revealed that hypothyroidism was about three times more prevalent in women compared to men.
Doctors say that despite the high prevalence and associated burden, thyroid disorders, along with other non-communicable diseases (NCDs), remain neglected. The low awareness about the same is compounded by non-specific symptoms like fatigue, excessive weight gain, constipation, dry skin, cold intolerance, muscle cramps, and puffy eyelids.
Dr Shanmugasundar, consultant endocrinologist at Magna Centres for Obesity Diabetes and Endocrinology says that, “In Chennai alone we have seen 2.09% cases of hypothyroidism go undiagnosed. Adults who are aged 35 years and above, pregnant, and middle-aged women in particular, are at high risk and may suffer additional complications if a thyroid disorder is left untreated. Undetected hypothyroidism results in increased vulnerability to comorbidities such as diabetes and hypertension."
She added that hypothyroidism is associated with Type 2 diabetes mellitus and poorly managed Diabetes can lead to insulin resistance, hyperinsulinemia and increased risk of hypoglycaemic episodes in diabetics. As a result, it increases the cardiovascular risk in Diabetics. "This can only be reduced with frequent screening to ensure timely diagnosis, which in turn will drive treatment and disease management for hypothyroidism at an early stage," she added.
Women with hypothyroidism undergo several complications such as miscarriage, post partum bleeding, anaemia and others during pregnancy, as they have a higher risk of infertility and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.
Dr Srirupa Das, Medical Director of Abbott said that educating people at higher risk, including women, about the nature, prevalence and symptoms of the condition, would facilitate timely diagnosis and treatment. Abbott's partnership with the Indian Thyroid Society to carry out an awareness drive across various states within the country and women’s health workshops is a part of 'Making India Thyroid Aware' and is aimed at stressing on screening for hypothyroidism.