Nearly one in four Poles have thyroid dysfunction

Nearly one in four Poles have thyroid dysfunction


On one hand, weakness, excessive sleepiness, prone to freezing, weight gain and apathy. On the other, insomnia, feeling hot, weight loss, nervousness and irritability. All these symptoms can point to the dysfunction of the same gland - the thyroid. Experts estimate that more than 300 million people worldwide suffer from thyroid problems, but as many as half of them are not aware of the illness.

Endocrinologists estimate that thyroid dysfunction may affect as many as 22% of Poles. The disease has a significant effect on reducing the quality of life, and its diagnosis, due to lack of specific symptoms, is often difficult.
Polish endocrinologists estimate that nearly one in four Poles was, or is affected by thyroid disease. According to the report of the Central Statistical Office (pol: Główny Urząd Statystyczny - GUS) entitled "Health and healthcare in 2015" shows that hypothyroidism is seven times more common in women than in men. In addition, the largest increase to date in the prevalence of thyroid disease among young people, compared to a previous study (by 1.1 percentage point), was recorded. Dr Renata Głoskowska-Koptas, endocrinologist at Medicover Polska.
The thyroid gland is one of the major endocrine glands. It is located at the front of the neck. It is responsible for endocrine function and metabolism. In addition, it is essential for the functioning of the nervous, digestive and reproductive systems. Thus its dysfunction has a great impact on the quality of life.

What causes thyroid dysfunction?

There are many different causes of primary hypothyroidism. This may include, for example, thyroiditis, radioactive iodine treatment, neck radiotherapy, certain medications, significant iodine deficiency in the environment or congenital hypothyroidism. In contrast, the most common causes of hyperthyroidism in Poland are Graves-Basedow disease and toxic nodular goitres. The former is an autoimmune disease, in which the body's own antibodies stimulate the thyroid gland to produce hormones, whereas the toxic nodular goitre is caused by iodine deficiency. In Poland this is frequently the cause of hyperthyroidism due to the deficiency of this element, which occurred in our country in the 1980s.

How does the illness manifest itself?

Most of the symptoms caused by thyroid disorders are non-specific. This means that they are similar to the symptoms of other conditions, so it takes some time to properly diagnose the illness and implement correct treatment. Symptoms of hypothyroidism are mainly due to the slowed down functioning of the body - we are suffering from general fatigue and excessive sleepiness, prone to freezing, our skin, hair and nails become dry, and we may experience constipation or weight gain. In turn, the symptoms of hyperthyroidism are the result of accelerated functioning of the body – we experience weigh loss even with increased appetite, burning sensation, increased sweating, irritability, nervousness, anxiety and fear. Patients suffer from insomnia, difficulty in concentrating, they may experience a faster heartbeat or palpitations. In addition, menstrual disorders may be present in women, and in men, reduced libido and sometimes erectile dysfunction. -Dr Renata Głoskowska-Koptas

How can I tell if I have the condition?

Both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism are diagnosed by measuring the levels of TSH and FT4 in the blood. Another useful test to diagnose hypothyroidism is determining the levels of antithyroid antibody concentrations, mainly TPO antibodies. It allows to determine if the condition is related to autoimmune thyroid disease. The blood sample to measure the levels of TSH, FT4 and TPO antibodies is taken from the vein of the elbow. All these tests are performed as part of the "Thyroid under control" diagnostic package at Medicover, which can confirm or exclude suspicions of thyroid disease. -Dr Renata Głoskowska-Koptas
The "Thyroid under Control" diagnostic package is available at Medicover Centres in the following cities: Warsaw, Wroclaw, Krakow, Katowice, Poznan, Gdansk, Gdynia, Lublin and Lodz.

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