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What Does My Thyroid Do?

What Does My Thyroid Do?

About 20 million Americans have some level of thyroid disorder, with most of them being women. When the hormones produced by this bowtie-shaped gland in the neck fall out of balance, your body’s metabolism goes haywire. 

Thyroid hormones interact with virtually every system in your body, regulating the way that they produce proteins and consume oxygen. When thyroid hormones fall out of balance, your metabolism may speed up or slow down, causing significant changes. 

Pompeyo C. Chavez, MD, at Premier Family Physicians, located in Bastrop, Texas, specializes in the treatment of thyroid imbalances. Should you recognize any changes that might resemble thyroid imbalance, schedule a visit at your earliest convenience. Thyroid issues can be corrected. 

Thyroid basics

Located at the base of your neck and wrapping around the trachea just below the voice box, the thyroid has two prominent lobes connected by a smaller section at the front of your throat. When the gland is in its normal condition, it can’t be seen or felt. But some conditions can cause the thyroid to enlarge. 

The primary function of the thyroid is to manufacture and release hormones that control metabolic functions, such as your heart rate, bone maintenance, brain development, and digestive system operation, to name a few. For your thyroid to function, it needs a supply of iodine from your diet. In developed countries, iodine deficiency is rare since the chemical is added to foods, such as iodized salt. 

Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH)

The pituitary gland delivers a hormone that regulates thyroid function. TSH acts as a monitor of your body’s activity, and its fluctuating levels in the bloodstream signal to the thyroid to alter levels of its own hormones. The hypothalamus also controls some aspects of pituitary function, creating what’s called the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis based on the way the three elements react and control metabolic tasks. 

Maintaining balance

The thyroid produces two hormones — T3 and T4. T4 can be converted to T3 by enzymes in other parts of the body, like the kidneys or liver, so that T3, the more active of the two hormones, is available when and where it’s needed. 

C cells also originate in the thyroid and help to regulate calcium and phosphate levels in the blood, essential for bone health. 

When thyroid balance fails, the gland underproduces or overproduces T3 and T4 cells. An underproduction is called hypothyroidism, while an overproduction is hyperthyroidism. 

Hypothyroidism slows your metabolism. You typically gain weight while feeling tired, sluggish, and depressed. 

Hyperthyroidism is accompanied by weight loss, irregular heart rhythms, and irritable moods. You may also feel weak as your metabolism races. 

There are a variety of causes of thyroid imbalances. Some can cause enlargement or growths on the thyroid, and sometimes the growths can cause imbalances. Thyroid cancer can also accompany growths, called nodules, but that is typically rare. 

You can book a consultation with Pompeyo C. Chavez, MD, by phone or online if you suspect any thyroid issues. Testing can pinpoint your condition, for which a treatment plan can be made. Schedule your appointment now. 

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