Saturday, 17 September 2016

Warning: Thyroid link to Alzheimer's disease

The truth: Alzheimer's does not discriminate. it does not care if you are a rocket scientists, a genius, professor. or the person with the lowest IQ. It annihilates cerebrum cells and causes memory changes, whimsical practices and loss of body capacities. It gradually and horrendously takes away a person's personality, capacity to interface with others, think, eat, talk, walk and drive.  Sadly it can make a person forget his/her children faces. Unfortunately Alzheimer's can result in death of a person 8-10 years after diagnosis.

The thyroid gland is central and essential to the endocrine system. The thyroid produces and releases hormones that regulate the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates.  It helps in the regulation of body temperature, energy levels and various hormone levels.  It even plays a role in fertility, and a vital role in the development of a normal, healthy fetus.  The thyroid gland, is a single gland with two main globes, fairly easy to locate when palpating the neck on either side of the voice box or larynx. Your doctor will often palpate the thyroid gland during medical visits to check for any evidence of inflammation, nodules or tumors.  The thyroid gland helps regulates weight, and the production of the hormone called calcitonin helps to regulate the metabolism of calcium, which maintain the integrity and density of bones.  The thyroid is also responsible for the regulation of sleep, since excess production of  thyroid hormones can lead to restlessness and insomnia, while a low production of these hormones can cause a person to feel very sleepy and exhausted all the time.  I have just touched the surface of the vital roles that the thyroid hormones play in the body.

When there is a suspected thyroid gland problem the first test requested, is the analysis of blood to detect the level of the thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) in the body.  Usually the normal levels in the body should range from 0.45 - 4.12uIU/ml.  Two other thyroid hormones that are important in the diagnosis of thyroid dysfunctions are free t4 hormone (Ft4), normal range 0.6 - 1.3ng/dl and the hormone triiodothyronine (T3), normal range 2.5 - 3.9pg/ml. If the laboratory results show an elevated TSH level i.e >4.12uIU/ml, a low Ft4 i.e <0.6ng/dl  and a low T3 level i.e < 2.5pg/ml, this indicates a condition called primary hypothyroidism. On the other hand, if the lab results show a low TSH i.e <0.45uIU/ml, and normal levels of Ft4 and T3 this usually indicates a hyperthyroidism disorder.  This is just a touch a all the different diagnoses of thyroid dysfunctions.

Despite numerous efforts to form a consensus among doctors to make thyroid hormone (TSH) screening part of one's routine medicals, the expert panels have disagreed. Some doctors feel there is no need for such dramatics, just test when there are symptoms presenting; some feel it should be after age 35 or age 65; and some labs feel it is wasting reagent, which is very expensive.  Let us hope that they take this link to Alzheimer's seriously and start routine TSH screening but even if the doctors do not, I sincerely hope that you do, since Alzheimer's cases is increasing.