What is Thyroid?
The thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland located in the lower neck, just below your voice box (larynx). It produces two thyroid hormones, tetraiodothyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). These hormones regulate how the body uses energy (controls your metabolism).
The thyroid, like many endocrine glands in your body, is controlled by the pituitary gland. The Pituitary gland is a pea-sized gland at the base of your brain that produces thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), which tells the thyroid how much hormone to make based on your bodies metabolic requirements.
The Thyroid gland uses iodine to make thyroid hormone. T4 is tetra-iodo-thyroxine (4 molecules of iodine). T3 is tri-iodo-thyronine, or 3 molecules of iodine.
When the thyroid is producing too much thyroid hormone, it uses more iodine. When the thyroid does not get enough iodine, it is stimulated with TSH by the pituitary gland causing growth (goiter).
The TSH blood test is the main test to determine thyroid function.
If you think you have a thyroid condition, ask your doctor to do a TSH blood test. The TSH also helps your doctor determine the correct amount of medication needed when you have a thyroid condition.
Because the thyroid controls your metabolism, the effects of thyroid are involved with many body functions. It helps regulate cholesterol, heart rate, body weight, muscle strength, menstrual cycles, brain functions, reproductive system and is essentially involved in every organ and tissue function.
Here are a few examples of conditions caused by dysfunction of the thyroid gland.
Hypothyroidism results when there is low amount of thyroid hormone. Hyperthyroidism is caused by too much thyroid hormone. Thyroid nodules are growths within the thyroid gland that may be malignant (cancer). Thyroid Cancer is a tumor that grows in the thyroid gland. Pregnancy presents a special condition when thyroid function may become disordered and cause effects to the growing fetus. There are drugs that can cause thyroid dysfunction. Grave’s orbitopathy is a condition that affects the eyes and vision. These conditions are all easily treated.