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Understanding How the Thyroid Gland Functions

Understanding The Thyroid Glands

Thyroid Gland: The human thyroid as viewed from the front, with arteries visible photo via CFCF : Wikipedia CC

How does the thyroid gland work?

  • The thyroid gland, small as it is, is one of the most important glands in the body.
  • This gland is responsible for the proper functions of the vital organs.

The thyroid gland is located beneath the Adam’s apple just in the base of your neck. It is small and shaped like a butterfly. Though it is small in size, this gland plays a vital role in the body. It affects many functions of the important organs of the body and this includes the liver, heart, kidneys, skin, and brain. To ensure that the whole body is healthy, one has to make sure that the thyroid gland functions properly.

Thyroid Gland: The human thyroid as viewed from the front, with arteries visible photo via CFCF : Wikipedia CC
Thyroid Gland: The human thyroid as viewed from the front, with arteries visible By CFCF – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

Functions of the Thyroid Gland 

The thyroid gland is the one responsible for the hormone that commands the cells to execute a certain task at a given time. To be able to perform this function, the thyroid has a need for Iodine which serves as a fuel to the body which makes it produce the thyroid hormone. You can get Iodine from milk, bread, and iodized salt.

The thyroid extracts from the bloodstream then use it to make the hormones, Thyroxine or T4 which contains 4 inside atoms and triiodothyronine or T3 which contains 3 iodine atoms. The pituitary gland gives the thyroid directions. The TSH, thyroid stimulating hormone, acts like a message sent to the thyroid gland so that it will know how much thyroid hormone it has to produce.

The levels of TSH in the bloodstream may rise or fall depending on the production of the thyroid hormone for the body’s needs. If there is a high level of TSH, it commands the thyroid to create more thyroid hormone. Low levels of TSH signals that the thyroid should be producing lesser hormones.

Thyroid System
Thyroid System By Mikael Häggström – All used images are in the public domain.

These are the body functions that are being regulated by the thyroid gland;

  • Body Weight
  • Heart Rate
  • Breathing
  • Menstrual Periods
  • Cholesterol Levels
  • Muscle Strength
  • Cholesterol Levels
  • Central Nervous System
  • Peripheral Nervous System

Symptoms that your thyroid glands are not functioning well;

Hyperthyroidism

  • Irritability
  • Hair Loss
  • Anxiety
  • Missed Menstrual Periods
  • Nervousness
  • Trembling Hands
  • Sweating

Hypothyroidism

  • Depression
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Dry hair & Skin
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Heavy & frequent periods
  • Joint pains
  • Fatigue
  • Sensitivity to cold weather

Who are at risk of acquiring thyroid diseases?

  • Prescription Medications – If you are taking of Amiodarone or Lithium, have your thyroid examined.
  • Family History – If there’s a family member or a relative that got the disease, you are most likely to have it too.
  • Radiation Therapy – If you have undergone radiation therapy on your neck or head, there is a possibility so better have your thyroid evaluated.

Sources: www.endocrineweb.com/, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thyroid

Also see: These Are the Foods to Avoid When Constipated

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Written by Markus Castro

A cat person by day and a writer by night. He loves to travel to his favorite destinations in Southeast Asia.

Sascha Bajin photo via Twitter @BigSascha

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