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What is Thyroid gland?

The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped organ located in the base of your neck. It lies below Adam’s apple, on the front side of the windpipe. It has two side lobes connected by a bridge, also called isthmus. One of the basic function of the thyroid gland is it releases hormones that control metabolism.

The thyroid is rich with blood vessels, hence it is brownish-red in color. Nerves important for voice quality also pass through the thyroid. It weighs 25 grams in adults, is usually larger in women and increases in size during pregnancy.

Functions of Thyroid Gland:

Iodine is one of the main building blocks of both hormones. Our bodies can’t produce iodine, so we need to get enough of it in our diet. Iodine is absorbed into our bloodstream from food in our bowel. It is then carried to the thyroid gland, where it is eventually used to make thyroid hormones.

The thyroid secretes several hormones, collectively called thyroid hormones. The main hormone is thyroxin, also called T4. Thyroid hormones act throughout the body, influencing metabolism, growth and development, and body temperature. During infancy and childhood, adequate thyroid hormone is crucial for brain development.

The primary function of the thyroid is the production of the iodine-containing thyroid hormones. The thyroid gland produces three hormones:

  • Triiodothyronine, also known as T3
  • Tetraiodothyronine also called thyroxin or T4
  • Calcitonin

Metabolic function: The thyroid hormones increase the basic metabolism rate and help in the development of all parts of the body and tissues. Thyroid hormone plays a vital role in controlling appetite, the absorption of substances, and gut mobility. It helps in decreasing cholesterol level.

Cardiovascular function: The hormones increase the rate and strength of the heartbeat. They increase the rate of breathing, intake, and consumption of oxygen, and increase the activity of mitochondria. Combined, these factors increase blood flow and maintain body temperature.

Sexual function: The thyroid hormones also play a role in maintaining normal sexual function, sleep, and thought patterns. Increased levels are associated with the increased speed of thought generation. Sexual function, including libido and the maintenance of a normal menstrual cycle, are influenced by thyroid hormones.

Hormone regulation: Thyroid glands with the help of pituitary glands control hormone level in the body. The pituitary glands send signals to the thyroid glands to release the appropriate required amount of hormones into the bloodstream. The hormones regulate the speed with which the cells and metabolism work.

Hormonal Imbalance

Overactive thyroid also is known as hyperthyroidism, occurs when the gland produces too many hormones and release in the bloodstream. Similarly, if the gland doesn’t produce enough hormones it is because of underactive thyroid or hypothyroidism.

Also Read: Foods That Can Help You Ease Hyperthyroidism

An overactive thyroid may cause:

  • Anxiety
  • Irritability or moodiness
  • Nervousness, hyperactivity
  • Sweating or sensitivity to high temperatures
  • Hand trembling (shaking)
  • Hair loss
  • Missed or light menstrual periods

An underactive thyroid may cause:

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Tiredness and fatigue
  • Dry skin and hair
  • Depression
  • Sensitivity to cold temperature
  • Frequent, heavy periods
  • Joint and muscle pain

Thyroid glands with the help of pituitary glands ensure the balance of hormones in our bloodstream. This gland also grows in size, if it is enlarged it is called diffuse goiter. It is recommended to see a doctor if you feel any changes in the size of your thyroid gland, so as to prevent any serious condition.

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