The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped organ located in the throat. Its main purpose is to produce a hormone which regulates an individual’s metabolism. The thyroid is part of the endocrine system of the human body and is controlled by the hypothalamus and pituitary glands (in the brain). The thyroid, when functioning properly, produces the correct amount of the two hormones, T3 and T4. The two most common disorders to do with the thyroid are hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.
Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid is overly active, producing too many of the hormones. Some symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:
- Faster heart rate
- Weight loss
- Muscle weakness
- Hair loss
- Heat intolerance
- Increase in bowel movements
Click here to read about some of the causes of hyperthyroidism.
Hypothyroidism is essentially the opposite of hyperthyroidism. Some of the symptoms may include:
- Weight gain or a difficulty in losing weight
- Cold intolerance
- Hair loss
- Dry skin
- Memory loss
- Decreased libido
The body is expected to produce a certain amount of thyroid hormones. If it does not, like in hypothyroidism, it is bombarded with the thyroid-stimulating hormone. This may cause goiters to grow on the thyroid and the thyroid to increase in size. If hypothyroidism remains untreated, the symptoms will progress, worsening with time. In the rarest of cases it can lead a patient to have their heart increase in size and perhaps even fall into a coma.
A thyroid disorder may easily be diagnosed through a blood test, in which the thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) is tested. The most common treatment for both disorders is medication to control the amount of hormones the thyroid produces. Patients with hypothyroidism may have to take the medication for the rest of their lives.
Oprah Winfrey and Kelly Osbourne both have thyroid disorders.
Click here to read more about the thyroid gland.
Image: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Thyroid_gland-ga.svgTags: weight loss