Thyroid Disease in a Collapse

The Thyroid Gland and Its Function

Hey Prepper Nation,

The thyroid gland is positioned just in front of the Adam’s Apple and produces hormones that help regulate your metabolism.  The thyroid produces substances that regulate growth, energy and the body’s utilization of other hormones and vitamins. 
Thyroid disease usually involves the production of either too little or too much of these hormones.  Thyroid malfunction is most commonly seen in women.

Thyroid Problems in a Collapse Situation

Another thyroid problem that we can expect in a collapse situation is the development of a lump on the thyroid known as a goiter.  This is the result of a deficiency of iodine in the body, and is one of the reasons why common table salt is “iodized”.  A person may have a lump on the thyroid without symptoms or even disturbed Thyroid hormone levels.  This may be a cyst or “cold” nodule, and usually has no major ill effect.  Thyroid cancer is relatively rare, even in the elderly, unless there has been exposure to radiation.
Hyperthyroidism
The excessive production of thyroid hormone is known as Hyperthyroidism.  Some common signs and symptoms of  this condition in adults are:
Insomnia
Hand tremors
Nervousness
Feeling excessively hot in normal or cold temperatures
Frequent bowel movements
Losing weight despite normal or increased appetite
Excessive sweating
Weight loss
Menstrual period becomes scant, or ceases altogether
Eyes seem to be “bulging out”
Growth and Puberty issues (children)
Muscle Weakness, Chest Pain and Shortness of Breath (elderly)
Severe hyperthyroidism causes a condition known as Thyroid Storm, which causes major effects on the heart and brain, and is life-threatening. Determination of thyroid malfunction depends on certain blood tests and sometimes a scan of the gland.   These modalities will be gone in a collapse, so it’s important to learn the various symptoms and signs that the disease manifests with.
Treatment of hyperthyroidism involves medications such as Propylthiouracil and Methimazole, which block thyroid function.  These medications should be stockpiled if you’re aware of a member of your group with hyperthyroidism, as they will be hard to find if modern medical care is no longer available.  Radiative substances such as I-131 has been used to actually destroy the thyroid, which unfortunately often results in the patient producing no thyroid hormone.  This is useful in severe hypothyroidism, but is also unlikely to be available in a collapse.  Iodide is also useful in blocking the excessive production of thyroid hormone, and can be found in Kelp at high levels. The anti-radiation medication KI (Potassium Iodide) might be helpful in this situation.  Unfortunately, the use of Iodides occasionally worsens the condition.
Dietary restriction of nicotine, caffeine, alcohol and other substances that alter metabolism will be useful as well.  Vitamins C and B12 are thought to have a beneficial effect on those with this condition, as is L-Carnitine.  L-Carnitine is beneficial in that it is helpful in treating elevated thyroid hormone levels without damaging the gland.  Foods that are thought to depress production of thyroid hormone include cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and spinach.  Foods high in antioxidants are thought to reduce free radicals that might be involved in hyperthyroidism.  These include blueberries, cherries, and tomatoes, squash and bell peppers, among others.
Hypothyroidism
More commonly seen than hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism is the failure to produce enough thyroid hormone.  The most commonly seen signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism in adults are:
fatigue
Intolerance to cold
Constipation
Poor appetite
Weight gain
Dry skin
Hair loss
Hoarseness
Depression
Menstrual irregularity
Poor Growth (Children)
The treatment of hypothyroidism is based on the oral replacement of the missing hormone.  These come in a variety of dosages, and it is important to determine the appropriate dose for your patient while modern medical care is still available.  Once you have determined this, you may consider asking a physician for a prescription for a higher dose, which would allow you to use, say, half of the pill in the present and stockpile the other half for the uncertain future.
Besides standard thyroid medications such as Synthroid and Levothyroid, there are a number of other remedies that may have effect in improving hypothyroidism.  A number of thyroid extracts are available which consist of desiccated and powdered pig or cow thyroid gland.  The amount of thyroid hormone in these extracts may be variable; therefore, the medical establishment recommends against the use of these supplements.  Having said this, in the absence of modern medications, it is better than nothing.  From a dietary standpoint, you should avoid foods that depress thyroid functions, such as cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and spinach.  A number of natural supplements, such as Thyromine, are commercially available.  They are combinations of various herbs that are touted as beneficial for both low and high thyroid conditions.  Your experience may vary.  If you choose this route, ask your physician to follow your thyroid levels for a time on the supplement to see how much effect it has on your condition.
Learning the various signs and symptoms of a medical condition will help you be an effective medical resource in times of trouble.  Without lab tests, scans and the other accoutrements of modern medicine, your knowledge and supplies will be all you have to keep your people healthy.
Dr. Bones
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