The thyroid gland is located in the front of the neck. Even though it's only about 1-inch (2.54 cm) large, this gland has a huge impact on human health. The thyroid gland, composed mostly of an inner core called the follicle and an outer layer called the colloid produces thyroid hormones. These hormones regulate the body's metabolism and affect how the body uses energy from what an individual eats. The most important ones are triiodothyronine (T3), thyroxine (T4), and calcitonin.
What does the thyroid do? The thyroid gland produces several hormones that regulate metabolism and affect how the body uses energy. These are thyroxine (T4), triiodothyronine (T3), and calcitonin.
Thyroid hormones are released into the bloodstream, where they travel throughout the body to control the metabolism of every cell in the body. They have a direct effect on heart rate, brain function, muscle strength, body temperature, weight, and cholesterol levels. These hormones also function in a complex feedback loop with the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland is located just below the center of the brain and makes a thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). TSH stimulates the thyroid to produce more hormones when it senses that the individual needs more or less of them.
When the thyroid is underactive (hypothyroidism), it makes fewer thyroid hormones. The body's tissues and organs do not get enough thyroid hormones to work properly. That may cause your metabolism to run slowly. Your heart rate may slow down, an individual may have trouble staying warm, and they might gain weight.
This is a malfunction in thyroid glands. Some thyroid diseases happen when the thyroid gland is not working properly, while others are inherited from parents. In most cases, thyroid disease is a result of autoimmune disorders where the immune system attacks thyroid cells and causes inflammation which leads to changes in thyroid hormone levels. Thyroid disease may be caused by thyroiditis, thyroid nodules, thyroid hyperfunction, or thyroid hypofunction.
The thyroid gland releases thyroid hormones into the bloodstream. These hormones travel through your body regulating metabolism and affecting how the cells use energy from food to keep your body going. When the thyroid gland is diseased or underactive, it does not produce thyroid hormones in the right amount and begins manifesting in thyroid symptoms that are unusual.
Some common symptoms of thyroid problems include:
Thyroid treatment may include thyroid surgery, thyroid hormone replacement therapy, and thyroid medications.
- Thyroid gland is surgically removed
- Thyroid hormones are given to replace the function of the thyroid that was removed
- Radioactive iodine treatment for hyperthyroidism
- Thyroid hormones may be given orally, injected, or through a skin patch
- Thyroid hormones work by replacing the thyroid hormone that is either missing or not working correctly
Radioactive iodine may be taken by mouth and absorbed by thyroid cells. Once radioactive iodine makes its way to thyroid cells it may destroy thyroid tissue.