The Thyroid gland is located in the neck just below the Adam’s Apple. This is a butterfly-shaped gland that sits between the voice box and collarbone. The gland produces hormones that regulate proper functioning of every cell, tissue, organ and system in your body – including your brain!
The main hormone produced by the gland is called thyroxine or T4. We need T4 to provide energy to all cells of our bodies and to produce neurotransmitters – which are chemicals that help messages travel across nerve cells. It also helps regulate protein synthesis, inflammation levels and affects cholesterol production. The hormones also stimulate brain function as well as normal growth and development during pregnancy (much like it does for infants).
Several different diseases can affect the thyroid gland
Increased T4 levels (hyperthyroidism) Increased T4 levels (hypothyroidism) Decreased T4 levels (hypothyroidism)
The hyperthyroids state is more dangerous than the hypothyroids state, which is more dangerous than normal, resting the gland function. Increased Thyroxine means that the body’s cells are taking in greater amounts of this hormone and needing to be eliminated. When this happens, there will be symptoms like higher pulse rates and heat intolerance – both of which are life-threatening in nature. If a person’s T4 levels are too high, the body will be forced to eliminate them (and thus offer us symptomatic relief) with our biological way of doing this being diarrhea.
Decreased T4 levels (hypothyroidism) will mean that the body is not taking in enough hormone to regulate body functions. Symptoms of hypothyroidism include: weight gain, poor mood and depression, cold intolerance, muscle weakness, and fatigue which can make daily functioning very difficult!
When a person has regular Thyroids gland function, he or she should have a normal heart rate between 60-80 beats per minute. If it is 65-70 when resting, then that is considered normal. It is important to note that a person Thyroids gland cannot be separate from the rest of their body and will respond to other influences. For example, Siberian Husky dogs have an inherited disorder where they produce too much thyroxine. In some instances, if the dog is exposed to extreme cold, this increased thyroxine production can result in a life-threatening condition called Hyperthyroidism (also known as – Canine Multinodular Goiter).
Thyroids hormone is also produced by the human placenta and has a key role in fetal development.
Thyroids hormone is essential for the development of the central nervous system, muscle and bone tissue.
The production of infants’ thyroxine hormone is greatest during the third trimester of their mother’s pregnancy, which helps with brain development in these newborns. Later in life, thyroids hormones are necessary to regulate body metabolism.
There are more than 60 different types of cancers that can affect this gland. In 2018 alone, 3,9000 people died from Thyroid cancer and there are 50,000 new cases per year! Prognosis is generally good if detected early but poor if undetected or if treatment is delayed. If a person is diagnosed with Thyroids cancer, the prognosis is much better if the cancer has not spread beyond the gland to other areas of the body doctor reports.
In addition to treating hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism (excess thyroxine), Thyroids hormones are also used to treat a number of other conditions including anemia, irregular heartbeat, high cholesterol and osteoporosis.
Unrelated – but interesting! New research indicates that one of these hormones may help prevent some neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.. although more study is needed.
Some signs and symptoms associated with thyroids disease may include:
• Fatigue – Your energy levels may be low during the day. You might feel more fatigued than usual. As part of the Thyroids gland’s health, you may feel those “mid-afternoon” fatigue attacks.
• Headaches – You may experience more headaches than usual. Thyroid hormones play a role in controlling muscle contractions in your eyes, ears, and the muscles that are used to move them around. Because of this, abnormal activity in the thyroids can lead to abnormal muscle contractions (such as headaches).
• Eyesight – You may have an inability to see clearly when reading, watching TV or playing video games (this is called visual disturbances). Your vision may also be blurry. In some cases, you may start seeing halos around lights.
• Weight gain – You may notice some weight gain. This is a common symptom as Thyroid hormone is involved in the regulation of metabolism.
• Hair loss – You may notice more hair fall out than normal, especially from the scalp and eyebrows. Some people report experiencing excessive nail growth (this can be quite inconvenient).
• Hoarse voice – If your Thyroids is not functioning properly, it can affect the muscles of your vocal cords. You may experience a hoarse voice or even have difficulties swallowing food! Some people report having small nodules in their vocal cords that are treated with surgery by removing them partially or completely.
• Depression – You may experience a mood swing. In extreme cases, you may develop a manic-depressive condition. These mood swings range from very happy to very sad.
• Constipation – Your bowels may slow down or become more difficult. This is because the Thyroids impacts the speed at which your food moves through your digestive tract.
• Muscle aches and pains – This can occur with many types of Thyroid problems, such as an overactive or underactive Thyroid gland. Some people have reported having muscle aches in the neck, shoulders and back area (this is referred to as myopathy).