We have all heard that your thyroid causes weight gain. But, what else does it do? Why is it so important? You will be surprised at how important your thyroid is, and what its role in the body is….
What Is Your Thyroid?
Your thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland located in the front region of neck. Your thyroid lies below your Adam’s apple, along the front of the windpipe. The thyroid has two side lobes, connected by a bridge (isthmus) in the middle. When the thyroid is its normal size, you can’t feel it.
Brownish-red in color, the thyroid is rich with blood vessels. Nerves important for voice quality also pass through the thyroid.
How Does The Thyroid Work?
The thyroid produces two main hormones: iodine (containing hormones Thyroxine or T4) and Triiodothyronine (or T3). These hormones circulate in the body through the bloodstream and work on every living tissue and cell.
TSH, a thyroid-stimulating hormone, is produced by the pituitary (located in the brain) that stimulates the thyroid gland. So, the higher the TSH the less the thyroid is functioning. The lower the TSH, the faster the thyroid is functioning. Your TSH should be somewhere between 1 and 4. You do not want your thyroid under active (hypothyroidism) or overactive (hyperthyroidism). We will be talking about each disorder this week.
Why Is The Thyroid So Important?
These hormones that are produced in the thyroid are essential for life and have many effects on body metabolism, growth and development. For example, thyroid hormones make the heart beat faster and can cause the body to burn up calories more quickly.
When you eat food, the food is turned into fuel or energy. Your body needs energy to keep the heart beating, the lungs breathing, and your body functioning correctly. The burning of energy to do all of these things is called the metabolism. Thyroid stimulating hormone is much like the carburetor. Low thyroid hormone levels make the body burn less energy, whereas high levels make the body burn more energy.
That doesn’t mean that high thyroid levels help you run fast, but it does mean that people with overactive thyroid glands tend to have higher heart rates; their muscles shake, and they lose weight. People with under-active thyroid glands, on the other hand, have slower heart rates, are fatigued, and gain weight. Children use much of their energy to grow, so children with thyroid disorders don’t grow well.
This week we will look at thyroid disorders, their signs and symptoms, and how they are diagnosed.