17 Common Thyroid Questions

Human thyroid and thyroid function

The thyroid is a small but important organ in the human body.  Many of us are not sure what it does, where it is or why we need to keep it healthy.  Below are some common questions asked about the thyroid.

What is the thyroid?  It is a small organ with a big job.  It plays a vital role in your metabolism and weight management systems.

Where is the thyroid?  It is in the front of your neck below the Adam’s apple and a bit above the collarbone.

What does the thyroid look like?  This little bumpy red organ looks like a butterfly.  Tissue in the middle connects the right and left glands.  

What makes up the thyroid?  It has two types of thyroid cells; follicular and parafollicular.  .  

What exactly does this little gland do?  The main function is to produce, store and release hormones.

What part of your body does the thyroid belong to?  It is part of the endocrine system which consists of many hormone producing glands. The hormones regulate growth, development, sexual function, tissue function, reproduction, metabolism, mood, sleep and more.  

Thyroid diagram

What are common problems that thyroids have?  Hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism are two we hear about most often.  Hyperthyroidism is the production of too much hormone. Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid isn’t producing enough.

Will your thyroid hurt if it is having issues?  It is rare but the thyroid may cause pain.  It occurs because the thyroid is swollen

What are common symptoms of thyroid issues?  It varies depending on if you are experiencing hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism.  

What are some HYPOthyroidism symptoms?  Women may experience fluid retention and heavier than normal menstrual flows. They may deal with fertility issues, miscarriage or developmental delays of a baby.  Cholesterol levels may increase with hypothyroidism. People that are intolerant to cold temperatures may have a sluggish thyroid. Weight gain is the symptom we hear about most often.

What are some HYPERthyroidism symptoms? Agitation, nervousness and tremor can occur.  Hyperthyroidism may cause heart palpitations and an increased heart rate.  An intolerance to higher temperatures may be a symptom.

Some symptoms are common to BOTH hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.  Although more common with hypothyroidism, poor concentration, sluggishness and depression are possible.  Either form may cause various aches and pains.

How are hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism created?  To date there has not been one single factor discovered. They may occur from a combination of factors like diet, various disease or genetics

How are thyroid problems diagnosed?  Tests ordered by your doctor.  There are various blood tests used to check the hormone levels in the thyroid.  Low levels will show hypothyroidism and high levels suggest hyperthyroidism.   

What hormones does the thyroid make? T3 and T4 are the two hormones that make up the majority.  T4 is produced in the thyroid and then converted to T3 in the body.  Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) is like the boss because it tells the thyroid how much to make of the other hormones.  This small gland makes other hormones as well.

Are there other problems that the thyroid might have?  Yes, thyroid nodules, goiter, thyroiditis and cancer are some other concerns.  Hashimoto’s is a disease that causes thyroid swelling. It also causes the immune system to attack the thyroid.

What treatments exist for thyroid issues?  If diagnosed with a thyroid issue prescription medications and lifestyle changes.  Herbal remedies also play a vital role in the health of your thyroid. Some of the herbs and minerals known to help support healthy thyroid function are Stinging Nettle, Horsetail, Kelp, Iodine, Selenium, Bladderwrack, etc.

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