Thyroid Dysfunction

Thyroid Dysfunction

Thyroid disorders are conditions that affect the thyroid gland, a butterfly-shaped gland in the front of the neck. The thyroid has important roles to regulate numerous metabolic processes throughout the body. Different types of thyroid disorders affect either its structure or function.

The function of the thyroid gland is regulated by a feedback mechanism involving the brain. When thyroid hormone levels are low, the hypothalamus in the brain produces a hormone known as thyrotropin releasing hormone (TRH) that causes the pituitary gland (located at the base of the brain) to release thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). TSH stimulates the thyroid gland to release more T4 (inactive form of thyroid), which converts to T3 (active form of thyroid)

Hypothyroidism results from the thyroid gland producing an insufficient amount of thyroid hormone. It can develop from problems within the thyroid gland, pituitary gland, or hypothalamus. Symptoms of hypothyroidism can include:

  •     Fatigue
  •     Poor concentration or feeling mentally “foggy”
  •     Dry skin
  •     Constipation
  •     Feeling cold
  •     Fluid retention
  •     Muscle and joint aches
  •     Depression
  •     Prolonged or excessive menstrual bleeding in women

Hyperthyroidism describes excessive production of thyroid hormone, a less common condition than hypothyroidism. Symptoms of hypothyroidism usually relate to increased metabolism. In mild cases, there may not be apparent symptoms. Symptoms and signs of hyperthyroidism can include:

  •     Tremor
  •     Nervousness
  •     Fast heart rate
  •     Fatigue
  •     Intolerance for heat
  •     Increase in bowel movements
  •     Increased sweating
  •     Concentration problems
  •     Unintentional weight loss

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