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Kericho residents urged to go for thyroid gland screening

As measures have been put in place to stop the spread of the deadly Covid -19 virus, a medic in Kericho County has advised residents to go for thyroid gland screening to enable them detect any irregular growth before it advances to goitre.

A section of patients during the thyroid clinic held at AIC Litein Kericho Annex Clinic on Saturday November 27,2021. Photo by Sarah Njagi

The thyroid is a gland that makes hormones that help control many vital functions of the body. Goitre is a swelling of the thyroid gland that causes a lump in the front of the neck. The lump moves up and down when the victim swallows or talking.

Speaking during a thyroid clinic held at AIC Litein Kericho Annex Clinic over the weekend, the resident doctor Dr. Ruth Talaam stressed that when Goitre is diagnosed early enough it will help boost chances of effective treatment and management of the patient.

“If a patient ignores a thyroid disease the patient will not know the repercussions and there are many causes including cancer that can cause enlargement of the thyroid gland. So it is good to have it checked to know whether your hormones are high or normal and secondly to evaluate the patient and if it is cancer that patient needs to undergo surgery before it spreads.” said Dr. Talaam.

She lamented that the hospital was managing around 200 patients with the ailment an indicator that the disease was rampant in Kericho, adding that they were in the process of completing a research on the disease in a bid to confirm its prevalence in the County.

“We have a huge number of patients suffering from goitre.  Currently we are managing around 200. Some have undergone surgery others general follow-up.  There is a research we are conducting to see how rampant the disease is among our people. Soon we will have the data to establish the disease’s prevalence in Kericho.” said Dr. Talaam.

The medic recommended the intake of iodine in diets as this was the most common cause of the disease. She noted that other causes of the disease are an overactive thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism) an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism), some type of medications, hormone changes and autoimmune diseases.

“In case of an enlarged thyroid gland, one will notice a swelling in the neck and progressive increase in that swelling over time which will make one speak with difficulties. Victims also struggles while swallowing. One can also experience palpitations depending if it is hyper functioning or hypo functioning, tremors in the hands, there will be a drastic loss in weight, cognitive changes, for women irregular menses, fatigue and if it is severe enough they will have diarrhea. When a thyroid gland makes too little or too much hormones then this will lead to health problems,” said Dr. Talaam.

She revealed symptoms include coughing, a tight feeling in the throat, sudden hoarseness in the voice, difficulty in swallowing or high pitched sound in breathing and a Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) test is conducted to confirm if the thyroid was producing excess hormones or less hormones and this guided the medic on the cause of treatment including surgery.

A Goitre Survivor Mama Beatrice Mutai, 45, said she lived with the ailment for five years and during that time she had difficulty swallowing food and experienced a lot of fatigue forcing her not to undertake her farming activities with ease. She added that she underwent surgery in July this year and was happy to resume her work in good health.

“I recovered from my surgery within a week and I am happy that the hospital assisted me. I heard an announcement on radio that the hospital was conducting free thyroid clinics and I decided to try my luck. I am now well and capable of taking care of my five children as well as continue working on my farm.” said Mama Mutai.

By Sarah Njagi

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