The thyroid is a small gland, shaped like a butterfly, that rests in the middle of the lower neck. Its primary function is to control the body’s metabolism (rate at which cells perform duties essential to living). To control metabolism, the thyroid produces hormones, T4 and T3, which tell the body’s cells how much energy to use.
When properly functioning it will maintain the right amount of hormones needed to keep the body’s metabolism functioning at a satisfactory rate. As the hormones are used, it creates replacements.
The quantity of thyroid hormones in the bloodstream is monitored and controlled by the pituitary gland. When the pituitary gland, which is located in the center of the skull below the brain, senses either a lack of thyroid hormones or a high level of thyroid hormones, it will adjust its own hormone (TSH) and send it to the thyroid to tell it what to do.
Hyperthyroidism is when the body produces more thyroid hormone than is needed for normal physiologic function. When the thyroid doesn’t produce enough hormone, the condition is called hypothyroidism. There are many different reasons why either of these conditions might develop.
Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) occurs when your thyroid gland produces too much of the hormone thyroxine. Hyperthyroidism can accelerate your body’s metabolism, causing unintentional weight loss and a rapid or irregular heartbeat. Several treatments are available for hyperthyroidism. Doctors use anti-thyroid medications and radioactive iodine to slow the production of thyroid hormones. Sometimes, hyperthyroidism treatment involves surgery to remove all or part of your thyroid gland. Although hyperthyroidism can be serious if you ignore it, most people respond well once hyperthyroidism is diagnosed and treated.
Common Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism
Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) is a condition in which your thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormones. Hypothyroidism may not cause noticeable symptoms in the early stages. Over time, untreated hypothyroidism can cause a number of health problems, such as obesity, joint pain, infertility and heart disease.
Accurate thyroid function tests are available to diagnose hypothyroidism. Treatment with synthetic thyroid hormone is usually simple, safe and effective once you and your doctor find the right dose for you.
Common Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
If you experience unexplained weight loss, palpitations, new or unusual sweating, swelling at the base of your neck or other signs and symptoms associated with hyperthyroidism, you should be evaluated by your Doctor. If you are currently being treated for hyperthyroidism, see your doctor regularly as advised so that he or she can monitor your condition.
If you’re feeling overly fatigued or have any of the other signs or symptoms of hypothyroidism, such as dry skin, a pale, puffy face, constipation, a hoarse voice or unexplained weight gain, see your healthcare provider for evaluation. If you’re currently receiving thyroid replacement therapy for hypothyroidism, it is important to schedule regular follow ups with your doctor to monitor your hormone levels and symptoms.
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