The Thyroid Gland Regulates Metabolism and is Prone to Many Diseases and Conditions
Conditions > The Thyroid Gland Regulates Metabolism and is Prone to Many Diseases and Conditions
The thyroid is a very important gland. It is the biggest gland in the neck and is located in the front of the neck below the skin and muscle layers. The thyroid is shaped a little like a butterfly. The left and right thyroid lobes wrap around the trachea. The thyroid makes thyroid hormone, a product that affects nearly every tissue of the body. When the thyroid is not working properly, the consequences can be very serious. Good thyroid health is of utmost importance.
The thyroid takes iodine, found in many foods, and converts it into thyroid hormones. Thyroid cells are the only cells in the body that can absorb iodine. The cells combine iodine and the amino acid tyrosine to make hormones that are released into the blood stream and transported throughout the body where they control metabolism. Metabolism is a conversion of oxygen and calories to energy. Every cell in the body depends upon thyroid hormones for regulation of metabolism.
The pituitary gland controls the thyroid. The pituitary gland is about the size of a peanut and is located at the base of the brain. When thyroid levels are too low, the pituitary gland makes thyroid stimulating hormones to get the thyroid to produce more hormones. The pituitary gland is regulated by another gland called the hypothalamus, a part of the brain that tells the pituitary gland to stimulate the thyroid gland.
The thyroid is prone to many problems. Sometimes the thyroid produces too much or too little hormone. In some cases, the thyroid grows too large and causes compression on important neck structures. Nodules and lumps sometimes form in the thyroid – a concern that raises the possibility of thyroid cancer. Thyroid cancer is a serious condition that some people face.
Goiters, thyroid cancer, solitary thyroid nodules, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism and thyroiditis are common diseases and conditions of the thyroid.
When the thyroid gland is dramatically enlarged, it is called a goiter. Goiters are removed often because they can look unattractive. However, they can also make the patient very uncomfortable and pose a serious health risk because they affect other important structures in the neck.
Thyroid cancer occurs quite frequently but despite the malignancy, most thyroid cancer patients enjoy long-term survival.
There are several characteristics of solitary nodules of the thyroid and they cause cancer concerns. About 50 percent of people will have a nodule in the thyroid, most are benign. When nodules take on cancerous characteristics, a biopsy should be taken.
When the thyroid produces too much hormone, the condition is called hyperthyroidism. This condition is usually treated with radioactive iodine, anti-thyroid drugs, or surgery.
In contrast, hypothyroidism means the thyroid isn’t producing enough of the hormone. This condition can exist for years before it is ever recognized or diagnosed.
Thyroiditis means the thyroid gland is inflamed. Symptoms of this condition include fever and pain.