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Are You Experiencing Symptoms of Thyroid Disease?

January 14, 2023 Mountaineer News Community Health

January is Thyroid Awareness Month. Most people have heard about the thyroid gland but may not know about the vital role it plays in our bodies.

The thyroid gland is a small, butterfly-shaped gland that is located at the base of the neck. It produces hormones that are responsible for the proper functioning of the body system and influences the function of our most essential organs: brain, liver, heart, kidneys and skin.

The thyroid’s primary job is to make hormones that are secreted into the blood stream and carried to every tissue within our bodies. The body uses this hormone for metabolism, digestion, regulating body temperature, and much more. It is vital to ensure your thyroid gland is healthy and functioning to its proper capabilities.

Thyroid disorders occur when the thyroid gland does not produce the right amount of hormones needed by the body. To fully understand thyroid disorders, let's look at the structure and function of the thyroid gland.

Structure of the Thyroid Gland The thyroid gland is a small, butterfly-shaped gland that sits in front of the windpipe right below the larynx (voice box). The gland has two lobes located on either side of the windpipe connected by a narrow strip of connective tissue called “isthumus”.

Hormones Produced by the Thyroid Gland The three hormones produced by the thyroid gland are:

  • Thyroxine (T4)

  • Triiododthyronine (T3)

  • Calcitonin

The main hormone produced is the “Thyroxine” hormone, also referred to as T4. Once Thyroxine enters the bloodstream, a small amount of the hormone is converted into “Triiododthyronine” or T3.

Calcitonin is another hormone produced by the thyroid gland. IT reduces calcium levels in the bloodstream when the concentration of calcium is above the normal level.

The brain plays an important role in the proper functioning of the thyroid gland. When the thyroid hormone levels are low, the brain produces a hormone called “Thyrotropin Releasing Hormone,” also referred to as TSH. TSH stimulates the thyroid gland to produce more T4 when T4 levels are low.

Importance of Iodine The main component of thyroid hormones is iodine. Iodine is very important for the proper functioning of the thyroid glands. Iodine cannot be produced by the body; it has to be absorbed from the nutrients that enter the bloodstream while digesting food.

Functions of the Thyroid Gland The thyroid gland is responsible for the following functions in the body:

  • maintaining the body temperature

  • heart beating properly and the strength of the pulse

  • proper utilization of food

  • proper growth of the brain in children

  • overall growth in children

  • the quick response of the nervous system

What is Hyperthyroidism - Causes and Symptoms Hyperthyroidism is a condition in which thyroid hormones in the blood are above the normal level. It occurs when there is an increase in the production of the thyroid hormone thyroxine.

A condition called Grave’s Disease is responsible for most hyperthyroidism conditions. Grave’s Disease occurs when the body fights against and attacks the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland responds to the attack by producing more thyroxine. When this happens, the thyroxine level in the blood shoots up above the normal level.

Sometimes hyperthyroidism can be because of a swollen thyroid gland or small growths in the thyroid gland called nodules.


  • sudden weight loss

  • the rapid increase in heartbeat

  • nervousness, anxiety

  • tremors

  • excess sweating

  • fatigue

  • menstrual irregularities

  • experience difficulty in sleeping

  • hair becomes thin and brittle

  • enlarged thyroid gland (goiter)

What is Hypothyroidism - Causes and Symptoms Hypothyroidism is a condition that occurs when thyroid hormone levels in the blood are low. It occurs when the thyroid gland does not function properly and produces enough thyroid hormones.

The main cause of hypothyroidism is a condition called "Thyroiditis." In this condition, the thyroid gland is swollen, inflamed, and does not produce enough thyroid hormones for the body to function properly.

Hypothyroidism can also be due to Hashimoto’s Disease, a condition in which the body attacks the thyroid gland and destroys it.

Other causes of hypothyroidism are:

  • effect of certain medication

  • birth defects

  • surgical removal of a part of the whole thyroid gland

  • pituitary tumor or surgery

  • treatment with radioactive iodine

Symptoms Hypothyroidism may include the following symptoms -

  • fatigue

  • extreme sensitivity to cold temperatures

  • dry skin

  • puffy face

  • increase in weight without reason

  • muscle weakness

  • muscle stiffness and aches

  • swelling of joints

  • slow heartbeat

  • depression

  • irregular or heavy menstrual periods

When hypothyroidism is not treated, it may lead to a condition called myxoedema, which occurs in advanced stages of hypothyroidism and can be life-threatening. Myxedema can lead to decreased blood pressure, decreased breathing, and decreased body temperatures.

Thyroid issues can be life-threatening if left untreated. The only sure way to be diagnosed with thyroid disease is to have a blood test performed to measure your thyroid hormone levels.

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