The thyroid is a small endocrine gland inside the neck, located in front of the breathing airway (trachea) and below the Adam’s apple. It produces two thyroid hormones, tri-iodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4), which circulate in the bloodstream to all tissues of the body.
The thyroid gland is located in the base of the neck on both sides of the lower part of the larynx (voice box) and upper part of the trachea (wind pipe). The gland produces thyroid hormone in response to stimulation by a hormone from the pituitary gland. Thyroid hormone acts throughout the body to regulate metabolism.
Thyroid hormones act to control metabolism (the body’s ability to break down food and store it as energy, and the ability to break down food into waste products with a release of energy in the process).
How well the thyroid works is controlled by another gland called the pituitary. The pituitary gland is located at the base of the brain and produces thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). TSH circulates via the bloodstream to the thyroid gland where it activates the thyroid to produce more thyroid hormones.
Thyroid hormones influence virtually every other organ system in the body. They tell the organs how fast or slow the should work, and tell the body systems when to use energy (e.g., consume oxygen and produce heat).
Thyroid diseases can be broadly divided into the following categories:
Overproduction of thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism)
Underproduction of thyroid hormone (hypothyroidism)
Benign (noncancerous) thyroid disease
Endocrinologists (physicians and scientists who study and care for patients with endocrine gland and hormone problems) have defined and studied several major disorders of the thyroid gland. Only a brief description is given here. You can link to any of the conditions that you may want to learn more about:
For information about a specific type of thyroid disease see one of the following:
Hyperthyroidism: An overactive thyroid gland. (More on HYPERTHYROIDISM)
Too much thyroid hormone speeds up the body’s metabolism. Women get this condition more often than men, and it occurs in about 1% of women. One of the most frequent forms of hyperthyroidism is known as Graves’ disease (named after Dr. Robert Graves). This condition can run in families although the exact nature of the genetic abnormality is unknown.
Because the thyroid is producing too much hormone with this condition, the body develops an increased metabolic state, with the functions of many body systems speeding up and producing too much body heat.
Hypothyroidism: An underactive thyroid gland. (More on HYPOTHYROIDISM)
Several causes for this condition exist, most of which affect the thyroid gland directly, impairing its ability to make enough hormone. More rarely, there are conditions in the brain (for example, pituitary tumors) that cause the pituitary gland to fail to produce thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and stimulate the thyroid enough to make hormone.
Whether the problem is with the thyroid gland or the pituitary gland, the result is that the thyroid is not producing enough hormone, and most major body functions, both physical and mental processes, slow down. The body consumes less oxygen and produces less body heat.
Thyroid Nodules :A condition that begins as a small localized swelling or lump in the thyroid gland.
Thyroid nodules may be single or multiple. They represent enlargement of a collection of thyroid cells caused by thyroid cell growth or because of a local fluid collection (“cyst”) in the thyroid gland. Thyroid nodules are quite common. Significant sized nodules, which are greater than a half inch across, occurs in about 5% of people. Almost half of the population will have tiny nodules but many are not aware of them until they become large. (More on THYROID NODULES)
Although most of these nodules are benign, they need medical attention because:
They may be cancer growths
They may produce too much thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism)
They may become too large and press on your trachea (airway tube) or swallowing tube (esophagus)
Other thyroid problems include thyroiditis (inflammation of the thyroid gland), a goiter (enlargement of the thyroid gland,
Life Style and Prevention:
Patient who have been treated for a thyroid conditions should understand:
1.When to take their thyroid hormone medication
2.Signs or symptoms of too much or not enough thyroid hormone
3.When to go to their doctor for blood tests to check thyroid hormone levels, or to check for nodules
4.That other drugs (and even other medical conditions) you are taking could affect your health or interact with your thyroid medication. Ask your doctor about possible interactions, side effects, or warning signs.
In general, there are things you can do to protect your health. Eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, exercising several times a week, and getting fresh air and relaxation are all activities that will help you feel your best. Healthy living is an important part of recovery from a thyroid condition. These suggestions may also help to prevent future problems.
Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.
Help taken from: www.hormone.org and www.healthline.com