Overcoming thyroid gland diseases

Dr. Clarito Cairo Jr., Department of Health (DOH) Thyroid Disorder Prevention and Control Program Manager

MANILA — MaricelGalang, 43, has been battling goiter since she was a teenager. While the disease kept her from doing certain physical activities, it did not keep her from pursuing her passion — singing in their church’s worship team and caring for her family.

“Nalamankonamayroonakonitonoong 14 ako. Sa side ng nanayko, angpinsankomayroon ring ganitongproblema. Lahinaminkumbaga (I learned I have this [goiter] when I was 14. On my mother’s side, my cousin also has this problem. It’s like it’s in our blood),” she told the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

Galang shared that living with goiter is a big challenge because it makes her feel tired easily but she doesn’t allow the disease to overcome her.

“Nawalanako ng bosesnoong 14 to 18 years old ako, perosalamatsaDiyos at umayosako. Nakakanta pa rinakosasimbahanperoangpinakamatagalnapagkantako ay isangorasnalang (I lost my voice when I was 14 to 18 years old but thank God that I recovered. I can still sing in the church but not longer than one hour),” she said.

World Health Organization (WHO) Philippines says goiter or iodine deficiency disease is characterized by a swelling in the neck due to the enlarged thyroid gland.

Galang is one of 200 million people around the world who suffer from goiter.

Goiter or iodine deficiency disorder (IDD) is the enlargement of the thyroid glands. People who acquire the disease have unusually big lumps on their necks.

Its symptoms include tight feeling in the throat, frequent coughing, hoarseness, difficulty swallowing, and difficulty breathing.

The Philippine Thyroid Diseases’ latest study in 2012 showed that goiter has a prevalence rate of 10.12 percent among the adults.

Meanwhile, the 2013 National Nutrition Survey showed that about 5.8 million Filipinos were afflicted with thyroid disorders, such as goiter, thyroid malignancy, mental deficiency, physical deformities, congenital hypothyroidism, cretinism, and reproductive failure.

In a recent health forum, Dr. Clarito Cairo Jr., Department of Health (DOH) Thyroid Disorder Prevention and Control Program Manager, said thyroid disorders affect 8.53 percent of adults, with thyroid cancer being the eighth top cause of cancer cases for both sexes.

“Five out of every 1,000 people could suffer from goiter. Angmgababaenaedad 20 years old pataasang mas prone sasakitnaiyan (Women aged 20 years old and above are more prone to that disease),” he said.

Apart from iodine deficiency, Cairo said goiter could be inherited or caused by hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism.

Hyperthyroidism occurs when your thyroid gland is overactive in producing the hormone thyroxine. People with hyperthyroidism have accelerated metabolism, hence, they’re underweight despite eating a lot. They also have palpitations, high body temperature and a tendency to get tired easily.

On the other hand, hypothyroidism happens when the thyroid gland does not actively produce thyroid hormones to keep the body running normally.

Galang’s goiter was caused by hyperthyroidism.

“Kapagmalamigangpanahonsapaligid, nahihirapanlangako. Parangakonanghihina, perokapagnakakainomako ng gamotkonaTapdin, umaayospakiramdamko at nagkakaroonako ng lakas ng loobkasi may (When the weather is cold, it is difficult for me. I feel weak, but when I take Tapdin, I feel better and I gain confidence because there is a) sense of protection because of the medicine,” she said.

Tapdin is a drug used to treat hyperthyroidism.

Because she is scared that her children might acquire the disease, Galang said she goes through regular consultations to her doctors during pregnancy.

“Hindi akoumiinom ng goiter medications kokapagnagbubuntisako. Itinutuloykolangkapagnakapanganaknaakotaposkumakainako ng seafoodsgaya ng payo ng doktorko (I don’t take my goiter medications when I’m pregnant. I continue taking it once I give birth, then I eat seafood as per my doctor’s advice),” she said.

Cairo said goiter and other thyroid gland disorders could lead to heart disease, infertility, mental health concerns, congenital hypothyroidism, mentally deficient babies, pre-term delivery and miscarriage, and even death among susceptible individuals.

“Para maiwasanang goiter at anghypothyrodism and hyperthyrodism, kumain ng pagkaingsaganasa iodine nanakukuhasadagat, gumamit ng subokna brand ng iodized salt bilangpanimplasapagkain (To avoid goiter, hypothyrodism and hyperthyrodism, eat iodine-rich food from the sea, and use a trusted brand of iodized salt as food seasoning),” he said.

Department of Health (DOH) Thyroid Disorder Prevention and Control Program Manager Dr. Clarito Cairo Jr. says DOH is pushing for the approval of a national policy on Thyroid Disorder Prevention and Control in line with the Universal Health Care program.

The World Health Organization, however, advised that people must consume less than 500 grams or one teaspoon of iodized salt a day to avoid health problems, which may be caused by too much salt in the body.

Meanwhile, Philippine Thyroid Association president Dr. WenceslaoLlauderes said information drives, such as health forums about the disease, also help in its prevention.

The DOH, together with its health partners from the public and private sectors, is continuously embarking on the information, education and communication activities about the IDD in communities.

Cairo added the National Salt Iodization Program aims to address the IDD issue in the country while the DOH is pushing for the approval of a national policy on Thyroid Disorder Prevention and Control in line with the Universal Health Care program. It will be a comprehensive health care program that covers prevention, screening, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation. (PNA)