The thyroid gland deserves to be labelled as the ‘small but mighty ‘ part of the body. This is because it is a very important organ that affects almost all the important functions of your body. Unfortunately, most people don’t know much about this all-important gland.
What is the Thyroid gland?
There are several organs in the body which have different shapes that make them memorable. For example, the kidney is shaped like a bean. Well, the thyroid gland has a very interesting shape; it is shaped like a butterfly! It has two lobes ( which resemble the wings of a butterfly) and a thin strip of connecting tissue called an isthmus. Some other people just have two lobes that are not connected.
It measures about two inches in length and lies at the base of your throat, below what is popularly called the ‘Adam’s apple’.
What does it do?
It produces two hormones which function to regulate the body’s metabolism. Your body’s metabolism is basically how your body runs and the rate at which it uses energy.
These two hormones are;
- Triiodothyronine, also known as T3
- Thyroxine, also known as T4
They are produced by the thyroid gland using Iodine. Iodine is a nutrient found in the food you eat. When the hormones are produced, they are secreted into the bloodstream and then taken to all the cells that need them.
In the body, only the T3 hormone is active. This means that it is able to direct the activities of the cells in the body. Thus, the T4 hormone is converted to T3 which then goes ahead to perform its regulatory functions in the body. It regulates;
- Heart rate
- The Nervous system
- Cholesterol levels in the body
- Body weight and temperature, etc
What can go wrong with the thyroid gland?
A disorder of the thyroid gland will have a lot of dangerous consequences on the body. Major thyroid disorders are caused by having too little or too high levels of thyroid hormone in the body. Thyroid disorders are quite common; it’s been estimated that at least 1 in 8 women will have a thyroid disorder in her lifetime.
This is a condition whereby too much T3 hormone is produced, leading to the body cells working faster than normal. Symptoms are:
- Increased heart rate
- Moodiness or irritability
- Increased sensitivity to heat
- Trembling of the hands
- Hair loss
- Light menstrual periods or missed periods altogether.
This occurs when too little T3 is produced and the body function slows down as a response to this. Symptoms of this include:
- Reduced heart rate
- Inability to sleep well
- Tiredness and fatigue
- Inability to concentrate
- Dry skin
- Dry hair
- Sensitivity to cold
- Heavy periods
- Joint pain
Other conditions that could be caused by the thyroid gland are:
- Thyroid eye disease
- Cancer of the thyroid
- Nodules/ Thyroid swellings.
Did you know that fatigue could be a symptom of a thyroid disorder? Check here.
Stay close to the blog to read more about the treatment of thyroid disorders and how you can protect your thyroid.
Till my next post,
Dr Omotola Oke