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The Thyroid: How Does It Work and Why Is It Crucial to Our Health?

The Thyroid How Does It Work and Why Is It Crucial to Our Health

The Thyroid: How Does It Work and Why Is It Crucial to Our Health?

Thyroid problems are prevalent in America. About 20 million people in the US are battling thyroid problems, and those are the people who know they have an issue. Sadly, the American Thyroid Association estimates that about 60% of Americans are unaware they may have a thyroid problem.

What is the Thyroid?

The thyroid gland is butterfly-shaped and sits at the base of the neck, in the front, just below the Adam’s apple. The two side lobes, the “butterfly wing” parts, lie against and around the windpipe. Part of the endocrine system, the thyroid is one of several hormone-producing glands throughout the body. Each gland in the endocrine system controls different functions. Together, these glands produce hormones that govern nearly every body function.

How does the Thyroid Work?

A vital hormone gland, the thyroid, plays a significant role in the growth and development of the human body and in regulating metabolism. The thyroid gland regulates various body functions by releasing hormones into the bloodstream. For example, if you are cold and need to warm up, your thyroid gland will produce more hormones to help regulate your body temperature. Consistently cold hands and feet are one sign that your thyroid may not be functioning as it should.

The primary purpose of the thyroid gland is controlling and regulating your metabolism. Metabolism is how a body breaks down food and converts it to energy. Other thyroid functions are heart rate regulation, blood pressure, body temperature, and the rate at which calories are burned in the body.

Why is the Thyroid Important for Health?

Thyroid problems typically stem from an imbalance, causing it to produce too much or too little of the hormones it secretes. Hormonal imbalances can cause the body to cease functioning at optimal levels. These imbalances may lead to severe issues such as hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid) or hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid).

Hyperthyroidism (Overactive thyroid)

If untreated, hyperthyroidism can lead to an autoimmune condition called Grave’s Disease, also known as Hashimoto’s. Many health complications stem from hyperthyroidism. These include extreme weight loss, dangerous heart conditions, eye disease, and thinning bones leading to osteoporosis.

Hypothyroidism (Underactive thyroid)

An underactive thyroid doesn’t produce enough hormones, causing metabolism to slow. Symptoms of hypothyroidism are commonly related to other factors and appear or progress slowly, making it harder to distinguish the signs and symptoms of a thyroid issue. Symptoms of hypothyroidism include weight gain and trouble losing weight, depression, fatigue, aching muscles, thin hair, and dry skin. Hypothyroidism is also associated with decreased mental health and cognitive functioning when left untreated.

Other Thyroid Issues

Other thyroid-related problems outside of hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism may affect overall wellness. Issues may include goiters, thyroid nodules, and thyroid cancer. These are serious issues related to thyroid health.

R2 Medical

If you suspect you may have a thyroid imbalance, contact R2Medical today for a complete evaluation. 

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