Dr Quinton Fivelman PhD, the Chief Scientific Officer at London Medical Laboratory, is warning that thyroid problems may be escalating rapidly in the UK population and it is likely that there is a direct link between SARS-CoV-2 and abnormal thyroid function.
While the average global incidence of thyroid problems in the population is only around 3%, Dr Fivelman says London Medical Laboratory’s latest research indicates that, here in the UK, about 1 in 20 of us has some kind of thyroid disorder, which may be temporary or permanent.
He says two factors may be at play in the growth of thyroid problems – the Covid-19 pandemic and an aging population. Explains Dr Fivelman: ‘There is growing evidence that thyroid problems are increasing in the community, and particularly among older people and those patients with Covid symptoms severe enough to be admitted to hospital. There is a concern now that these two factors combined may see these numbers climb even higher in the future. In addition, thyroid problems are more common in women than men. A woman is about five to eight times more likely to be diagnosed with a thyroid condition than a man.
‘A recent study revealed almost 15% of hospital patients with Covid-19, who had no previously diagnosed thyroid disorders, went on to develop abnormal thyroid function. A study from the US, also released
recently and confirmed by our results, has found that almost 25% of over-65-year olds are now showing some kind of thyroid problem.
‘In the last two years, around 41% of us delayed or avoided medical care such as regular GP check-ups, and we believe there is little doubt that illnesses such as thyroid problems have gone unrecognised as a result.
‘A recent study in Nature, which has been mirrored by the results of London Medical Laboratory’s own blood “MOT” tests, reveal one in four people over 65 showed signs of thyroid problems.
Concerningly, many of the cases picked up in the study were previously untreated thyroid dysfunctions. Most of these patients had underactive thyroids, while a very small minority suffered from overactive thyroids
‘That’s concerning enough but, in the last year, evidence has been building that there is also a link between Covid-19 and abnormal thyroid functions in patients of all ages. And people ill with Covid-19 have a worse prognosis if they develop thyroid problems.
‘Thyroid diseases can lead to severe health problems and need to be treated quickly. If undiagnosed, underactive thyroids (hypothyroidism) can lead to slow heart rate, hearing loss, anaemia and, in the most severe cases, Myxedema Coma.