Your Tiny (but Mighty) Thyroid

Tiny but Mighty Thyroid - Large

In the front of your neck, just below your Adam’s apple, sits a tiny gland. It’s shaped like a butterfly, but when it’s not functioning properly, it can sting like a bee!

Your thyroid gland produces hormones that regulate your body’s metabolism. Your metabolism is the process of converting what you eat and drink into energy. It determines how fast or slow things happen in your body. 

That means your thyroid controls things like:

  • How fast or slow your hair grows
  • Your rate of breathing
  • The frequency of your periods
  • The rate you burn calories
  • The rate that your heart beats

As a result, your thyroid helps to determine your energy level, your weight and even your mood. Kimberly Bethel, MD, of Trotwood Physician Center explains more about the thyroid’s role. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

What is the function of the thyroid?

The thyroid's function is to regulate the metabolism of the body. How fast things go, or how slow things go. It does everything from the top of the head, all the way to the toes, in regard to how fine your hair is, how coarse your hair is. How fine or coarse your skin is, if you have diarrhea, or constipation on the extremes. It also will regulate your weight. If you're a fast metabolizer where you're burning calories, or if you're a slow metabolizer where you're going to gain weight. It also can affect your heartbeat, in terms of how fast or how slow it goes.

 

Thyroid Disorders

Because thyroid hormones help keep all the cells in your body working right, in order for you to feel strong and healthy, your thyroid needs to behave properly. When it’s out of whack (releasing more or less hormones than it should), your body will tell you.

If your thyroid doesn’t release enough hormones, your metabolism will slow down and you may feel sluggish. If your thyroid releases too many hormones, your metabolism speeds up and, over time, you may feel anxious or exhausted.

For such a tiny gland, your thyroid sure has a lot of power!

Other thyroid disorders include thyroid nodules, which are fluid-filled cysts or tissue growth. Nodules are usually tiny and affect almost half the U.S. population. If nodules get large, they will eventually show up as a lump in your neck. Thyroid cancer is rare and also shows up as a lump in the neck. Other thyroid disorders are goiters and thyroiditis, which are enlarged or swollen thyroids.  

Your thyroid helps to determine your energy level, your weight and even your mood.

Causes and Diagnosis of Thyroid ProblemsTiny but Mighty Thyroid - Small

Thyroid problems are often caused by autoimmune disorders. (These occur when your immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys your body’s own cells.) Other causes include a severe deficiency of iodine, problems with the pituitary gland, small bumps (nodules) in the thyroid gland that can affect thyroid hormone production, and removal of the thyroid.

If you think your thyroid may not be functioning as it should, talk to your doctor. An easy blood test can quickly provide an answer. And in most instances, medication can return your hormones to their proper levels. 

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