The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland found inside your neck, right under your larynx or voice box. A two-inch long, brownish red, highly vascular gland, it has two lobes located on each side of the windpipe that are both connected by a tissue called the isthmus.
A normal thyroid gland weighs somewhere between 20 and 60 grams.
Your thyroid is responsible for producing the master metabolism hormones that control every function in your body. It produces three types of hormones:
- Triiodothyronine (T3)
- Thyroxine (T4)
- Diiodothyronine (T2)
Hormones secreted by your thyroid interact with all your other hormones, including insulin, cortisol, and sex hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. The fact that these hormones are all tied together and are in constant communication explains why a less-than-optimal thyroid status is associated with so many widespread symptoms and diseases.
The role of the hormones is to help the communication inside our body and regulate various processes and functions.
Yet, numerous people suffer from endocrine disorders, which are characterized by dysfunction of our hormones. Ones of the most prevalent are thyroid disorders, which lead to numerous symptoms and health issues, and can be of two main types.
– Hypothyroidism affects 4.6% and hyperthyroidism 1.2 percent of the US population.
Hypothyroidism is the condition of a reduced function of the thyroid gland when the blood lacks the needed amounts of the thyroid hormone. The most common symptom is an inability to lose weight despite a healthy diet and regular exercise.
The reduced levels of thyroid hormone in the blood slow down many processes in the body and the person experiences tiredness, fatigue, a lack of energy, and sluggishness.
The slow metabolism lowers the body temperature, especially in the hands and feet. Moreover, people often suffer from constipation, anxiety and depressive episodes.
– On the other hand, hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland is overactive and the levels of thyroid hormone are excessively high. It also affects the metabolism, but in an opposite way- by accelerating the functions.
The most common signs of this disorder include increased perspiration, nervousness, anxiety, and irritability, heart palpitations, muscle weakness, trouble sleeping, thinning of the skin and fine brittle hair.
Women might have a lighter menstrual cycle or not one at all. Initially, it causes extra body energy and then exhausts the body.
Causes of Thyroid Disorders
Thyroid disorders are caused by various factors. The condition when the body has too low levels of thyroid hormone is known as Graves disease and affects 70% of those with hyperthyroidism.
In some cases, the body’s immune system mistakes thyroid gland cells and their enzymes as attackers to the system, and this type of hypothyroidism is an autoimmune disease known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
Hyperthyroidism might also be a result of the development of nodules on the thyroid that slowly grow and increase the output of thyroid hormones in the system. These lumps are known as goiters.
Sometimes, the surgical removal or radiation treatment of the thyroid due to goiters or thyroid cancer treatment causes a lack of thyroid hormone production.
Other causes of thyroid disorders include excessive or reduced iodine levels, damage to the pituitary gland, being born with it (congenital), or inflammation of the thyroid gland.On the other hand, hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland is overactive and the levels of thyroid hormone are excessively high. It also affects the metabolism, but in an opposite way- by accelerating the functions.