Do you know? 6% of our population in India (majority being women) is deficient in their thyroid function. Thyroid hormone is vital as it affects key metabolic activities and the functioning of several major organ systems including the heart, brain, muscles and the skin. Left untreated, it will result in infertility, joint pains and obesity.
Thyroid hormone imbalances can be easily corrected with either diet or drugs or both. Unfortunately, diagnosing thyroid deficiency remains a primary challenge in our country, because:
- Most patients ignore the symptoms – tiredness, weight gain, constipation etc. or opt for home therapies that do not address the root cause, thus making thyroid dysfunction asymptomatic;
- Many doctors are handicapped when it comes to clinical testing required to rule out thyroid deficiency. It will take anywhere between 12 to 24 hours in our cities to obtain the results of a simple thyroid blood test called TSH and FT4 test; and 48 hours outside cities provided the facility is available. Most of the times the patients fail to make a second visit to the doctor for the test reports and consultation thereon. Therefore, doctors end up treating patients for their symptoms, and do not diagnose thyroid deficiency.
The second generation lateral flow test (similar to the colour changing of test strip to find out if one is pregnant or not) is available for detecting thyroid deficiency, but it can only indicate whether a person is hypothyroid or not. But a doctor needs to know the exact amount of TSH concentration in blood (not just whether a person is hypothyroid or not), in order to prescribe the right dose of treatment.
Micro lab-on-a-chip (microfluidics) platforms are widely accepted as being highly accurate, and comparable in sensitivity to autoanalysers. Microfluidics is nothing but perfecting the art of using minute quantities of fluids, a characteristic feature of the autoanyliser in performing such blood tests.Such microfluidics-based testing products routinely used in the West to make critical, timely decisions in emergency and ICU departments, are now a days becoming more widely available in India as well, at affordable price points.
This quick and accurate diagnostic technology/tool comes as a big relief to doctors and patients, in solving the widely prevalent thyroid disorders that affect the lives of millions of people in our country.