What Is The Thyroid?
The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped organ located within the lower front of the neck. The thyroid plays a key role in controlling the body’s metabolic rate through the production of thyroid hormones. The thyroid produces 2 specific hormones: thyroxine (known as T4) and triiodothyronine (known as T3). These hormones are continually released into the bloodstream to help maintain bodily functions. Your thyroid hormones play an important role in digestion, brain function, muscle control, heart health, and more. The thyroid balances thyroxine and triiodothyronine levels to maintain homeostasis. In some cases, hormone levels can become unbalanced, leading to thyroid disorders.
What Are Some Common Thyroid Disorders?
When the thyroid does not make enough hormones, this is known as hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid). If the thyroid gland produces too many hormones, then this causes hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid). These thyroid conditions can cause many unpleasant symptoms, including chronic weakness, tiredness, and more.
Thyroid nodules and multinodular goiters are other common thyroid disorders. A goiter refers to an enlarged thyroid that has grown in size due to inflammation. Goiters may have thyroid nodules attached. These small lumps are often harmless, but some may grow larger and affect surrounding structures. In rare cases, thyroid nodules are cancerous and need to be promptly treated. Thyroid cancer can spread to other parts of the body if not properly diagnosed and removed.