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Care for the thyroid gland, careful care of the neck “small butterfly”

The thyroid gland is an organ shaped like a butterfly and resembles a shield armor in the front and upper part of the neck. The thyroid gland plays an irreplaceable role in the growth and development of the human body. It manufactures, stores and releases thyroid hormones into the bloodstream to regulate the body’s growth and development and metabolism. These hormones are important for maintaining the proper functioning of all tissues and organs of the body. They enable the body to use stored energy more efficiently, maintain body temperature and keep muscles working properly.

Likewise, when the thyroid gland is diseased, the corresponding functions of the body are affected. There are 2 main types of thyroid disorders – functional abnormalities and structural abnormalities.

The two main types of functional abnormalities are hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. When thyroid function is abnormally high, it is often referred to as hyperthyroidism. In this state, the hormone levels in the body will increase, the metabolism will speed up, and the patient will experience symptoms such as irritability, anxiety, irritability general weakness, insomnia, excessive sweating, hyperphagia, and significant weight loss. When the thyroid gland function is abnormally low, also known as hypothyroidism, the body’s metabolism slows down and patients experience symptoms such as memory loss, mental retardation, and slow reaction time.

When the thyroid gland has structural abnormalities, the most common is a thyroid nodule, which can be benign, malignant or inflammatory. A small number of thyroid nodules with a pathological diagnosis of malignancy can be life-threatening if left untreated.

In recent years, the issue of “thyroid” has become a high frequency word in medical reports. So, how can we protect our thyroid gland?

1. Live a regular life and eat a light diet

Many thyroid patients have problems such as staying up late, stressful work, tension and anxiety, so it is important to combine work and rest and live a regular life. In daily life, you can add more high-quality protein, eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, coarse grains to supplement dietary fiber and vitamins, and also actively exercise to improve the body’s immunity.

2. Avoid ionizing radiation

The thyroid gland is the most sensitive organ in the body to radiation, so possible exposure to radiation should be minimized. It is important to reduce unnecessary radiological examinations, especially in children and adolescents. When it is necessary to improve relevant imaging examinations, other examinations such as ultrasound and MRI can be used instead of X-rays and CT examinations.

3. Pay attention to emotional changes

Negative emotions such as depression, anxiety and stress do not directly affect the thyroid gland, but can cause endocrine or immune dysfunction by disrupting the nervous and endocrine systems, which can lead to the thyroid gland being attacked by the immune system by destroying the “compatibility” with its own antigens.

4. Regular medical checkups

People with nodules detected on physical examination or with a clear family history should undergo regular ultrasound and thyroid function tests. Thyroid function tests are mandatory for women during pregnancy; before preparing for pregnancy, screening for thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) and other related indicators is recommended for women. It is important to note that people with a family history of medullary thyroid cancer also need routine physical examinations for calcitonin and carcinoembryonic antigen, as well as genetic testing if available.

Many thyroid patients ask their doctors, “Can I still eat iodized salt if I have thyroid disease?” “Is it not possible to eat seafood with thyroid nodules?”

There are numerous contributing factors to the development of thyroid disease, including diet, lifestyle habits, environment, genetics, and increased access to early screening. There is no evidence of a necessary relationship between iodine and thyroid nodules. In fact, iodine is the thyroid’s closest friend. The thyroid gland is the largest endocrine gland in the body, and its secretion of thyroid hormones is essential for maintaining normal life activities in the human body, participating in the regulation of growth, development and systemic metabolism of each of us; and iodine is the raw material for the synthesis of thyroid hormones. Therefore, the amount of iodine intake directly affects the secretion of thyroid hormones.

To figure out what you can eat, you first need to find out your thyroid condition:.

-Thyroid nodules without thyroid function problems: iodine-appropriate diet

-hypoparathyroidism/hyperthyroidism: iodine intake according to the cause

Post-operative thyroid cancer: iodine intake according to the type of pathology

-Before iodine-131 treatment: Iodine avoidance diet

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a daily intake of 150-200 micrograms of iodine for healthy adults (non-pregnant women) and at least 250 micrograms for women during pregnancy and lactation.

An iodine avoidance diet, which is commonly known as avoiding all iodine-containing foods, is almost impossible to do. Therefore, it is only necessary to avoid foods that contain a lot of iodine in daily life, such as iodized salt, preserved foods, and some seafood that contain high levels of iodine. After treatment, if the thyroid function is not yet normal, or if the thyroid gland is enlarged, excessive intake of iodine may aggravate the condition, so it is necessary to strictly “avoid iodine”.

When choosing iodized salt or low iodized salt, do not eat seafood and preserved processed foods with high iodine content, or choose non-iodized salt and consume small amounts of seafood. Patients with hyperthyroidism who have normalized their thyroid function and have no significant enlargement of the thyroid gland may consume foods with less iodine in small amounts, and must still use non-iodized salt when cooking.

Although the incidence of thyroid cancer is increasing year by year, most of the thyroid cancers are well differentiated and most of them have good prognosis and high survival rate after standardized treatment. However, in clinical practice, a significant proportion of patients with locally advanced thyroid cancer still face inoperable, extensive surgery, trauma, and high local recurrence rate, which is one of the main causes of death in thyroid cancer patients. After thyroid cancer is diagnosed, please also follow the relevant treatment and follow-up treatment as required by the specialist.

1. Post-operative diet is the key

A reasonable diet after thyroid cancer surgery can help patients recover as soon as possible.

(1) Short-term diet (within 2 weeks)

Light diet, liquid and easy to digest

In the short-term period after thyroid cancer surgery, it is recommended to eat easy-to-digest and easy-to-absorb food, less fried food, high-fat food and high-protein food such as eggs and milk. Ligation of the inferior thyroid artery during thyroid cancer surgery carries the risk of accidental injury to the thoracic duct resulting in celiac leakage, which may pose a potential threat to the patient’s life; and a low-fat diet is an effective measure to prevent the production of celiac fluid, which can effectively reduce the health hazards caused by possible celiac leakage after thyroid cancer surgery. In addition, when thyroid cancer surgery involves the esophagus, it is necessary to be confirmed by the doctor before eating through the mouth, and avoid spicy stimulation and excessive heat when eating to reduce the irritation to the esophagus.

After thyroid cancer surgery, a small amount of thyroid tissue may remain or latent thyroid cancer cells may not be eliminated from the body. Long-term high iodine may stimulate normal thyroid follicles or thyroid cancer cells to proliferate. Therefore, do not eat more foods with slightly high iodine content such as nori, shrimp, kelp and dried sea fish after thyroid cancer surgery. However, there is no need to deliberately avoid fresh sea fish and sea crab, which contain about the same amount of iodine as land animal meat.

Balanced nutrition and appropriate supplements

After surgery, it is necessary to ensure a reasonable diet structure, balanced intake of various nutrients, and appropriate supplements. During surgery, the patient’s parathyroid glands may be removed, damaged or blood supply involved, resulting in low calcium phenomenon and symptoms such as numbness and twitching of hands and feet, doctors will usually provide calcium supplementation measures, and patients should also consume appropriate high-calcium and low-carbon foods, such as thread-leaf vegetables, milk, shrimp, sesame paste, etc., and advocate the consumption of cod liver oil, animal liver, egg yolk, butter, etc. with high vitamin D content.

(2) Long-term postoperative diet (after 2 weeks)

Generally, thyroid cancer patients can gradually resume normal diet 2 weeks after surgery if there are no other complications. In conclusion, post-operative thyroid patients should have a balanced diet, intake according to needs, scientific iodine supplementation and develop personalized recipes.

2. There are rules for medication

(1) What should I pay attention to when taking Eugenol?

(1) Eugenol must be taken at least half an hour before breakfast; (2) Take vitamins or nourishing products more than one hour after taking Eugenol; (3) High-fat and high-calcium foods can be consumed only after 2 hours of taking Eugenol; (4) High-protein foods such as milk, beans and their products can affect the absorption of Eugenol, so it is recommended to take them after 4 hours.

(2) What should patients pay attention to in their diet during iodine-131 radiation therapy?

Iodine-131 therapy is one of the most important treatments for patients with hyperthyroidism. The purpose of adjusting the diet before treatment is to consume as much of the “stable iodine” stored in the patient’s body as possible, so that the thyroid tissue or thyroid cancer cells can “take in” more “radioactive iodine”.

After iodine-131 treatment, there is no need to abstain from eating and the patient can eat normally; ② 4 weeks before and 4 weeks after iodine-131 treatment, the patient should eat more fresh fruits and vegetables and avoid iodized salt and high iodized food, including dried fresh kelp, dried fresh wakame, nori, spirulina, seaweed, shrimp, shellfish, etc.; ③ After radiotherapy, the patient should also be given enough protein. Patients with hypothyroidism often suffer from hyperlipidemia, which is more pronounced in primary hypothyroidism. Therefore, the intake of fat and high cholesterol diet should be limited during iodine-131 radiation therapy.

3. Moderate exercise to restore health

Exercise for thyroid cancer patients after treatment needs to adhere to the principle of moderate amount and moderation. Moderate dancing and running, table tennis and other exercises can be performed. Especially for patients after cervical lymph node dissection, they should gradually carry out functional exercises after surgery and pay attention to correct the dysfunction of the affected shoulder at any time.

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