Increasing number of men, particularly in the urban areas of the eastern zone in India, are being detected with thyroid dysfunction, according to a recent survey. Thyroid disorders are commonly associated with women but could lead to serious consequences like cardiac problems, mental health issues and infertility among men.
People under the age group 31-45 were found to be at increased risk of thyroid dysfunction. Prevalence of thyroid disease was found to be high among men in the eastern zone. 22.68% of the sample recipients had abnormal TSH hormone levels. Southern India showed the lowest percentage of abnormality with 19.4%. Men in eastern India had the higher percentage due to iodine deficiency in those areas.
"Three decades ago, the number of thyroid patients, including men, would have been higher in the east. In the north Bengal districts in particular, there is a problem of iodine deficiency which triggers hypothyroidism. It affects both men and women. Unfortunately, it is associated more with women, though the consequences could be just as serious in the case of the former," said Subrata Maitra, critical care expert.
"It is very difficult to pin-point a reason, but it is quite often genetic. Then, stress is also a major factor, along with food habits. Thankfully, iodine intake has gone up in the region which has helped to reduce the number of patients," said Maitra.
Hypothyroidism is highly prevalent in India with one out of 10 people in the country being diagnosed with the condition. It has been estimated that about 200 million people suffer from thyroid disorders worldwide and amongst those 42 million are in India. Early diagnosis and treatment remain the cornerstone of management of thyroid disease. Awareness about thyroid disease is low among men.
"There is a belief that thyroid is a feminine disease. It couldn't be further from the truth. Men are just as prone to the disorder. It goes undetected in most cases. As in women, the symptoms are swollen limbs, loss of appetite, constipation, depression, weight gain, loss of concentration, weak muscles among a host of others. Previously, we would frequently encounter people with goiters - a common symptom of thyroid. Now, it has turned rarer as the government has taken care to make iodized salt easily available. Still, thyroid remains one of the neglected and lesser known ailments that has been silently taking a toll," said PK Nemani, executive committee member, West Bengal Medical Council.