Hormonal/Endocrine Disorders

Information about the Thyroid

This explains some of the conditions associated with the thyroid gland. As with any healthcare issue, you should talk to your healthcare provider about your particular situation.

What is the thyroid, and why is it important?

The thyroid is an endocrine gland that plays a key role in regulating growth, development, and normal function of the body. It is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the front of your neck. The thyroid can affect your heart rate, your emotional state, your feelings of tiredness and hunger, and the condition of your skin and hair. In fact, your thyroid influences most cells in your body.

Your thyroid controls your body’s functions by making several hormones, including thyroxine (T4), which is converted to triiodothyronine (T3). If you do not get enough iodine in your diet, your thyroid cannot produce enough T3 and T4. The amounts of T3 and T4 released into the bloodstream:

  • Regulate the body’s ability to turn food into energy
  • Affect the rates of tissue growth
  • Affect the function of organ systems through the body

The amount of thyroid hormones released by the thyroid gland is monitored and controlled by the pituitary gland which releases thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) when the thyroid hormones are too low. When your thyroid is functioning normally, TSH levels are relatively low.

Thyroid Function

With thyroid disease, thyroid hormones are either over-produced or under-produced. Diseases of the thyroid gland include:

  • Hypothyroidism– Not enough thyroid hormone is produced
  • Hashimoto’s disease– An autoimmune disease that causes the thyroid to produce too little thyroid hormone, causing hypothyroidism
  • Hyperthyroidism– Too much thyroid hormone is produced
  • Grave’s disease– An autoimmune disease that causes the thyroid to produce too much thyroid hormone, causing hyperthyroidism
  • Goiter– Enlargement of the thyroid gland
  • Thyroid nodules– Growth of thyroid tissue causing circular or oval-shaped lumps in the thyroid gland
  • Thyroid cancer– Growth of the thyroid gland, either goiter or thyroid nodules, that become cancerous