Located within your neck, the thyroid is a large, ductless gland that plays a very important role in the regulation of one’s hormones. The thyroid has the ability to affect weight, body temperature, mood, and much more. While it plays such a significant role in our overall health, the thyroid is oftentimes overlooked due to its inconspicuousness. Although it’s quite small and just about unnoticeable, it can have a major impact on your body if it’s unhealthy.
Facts about the Thyroid
Your thyroid sits fairly low on the front of your neck, and for men, it’s located below the Adam’s apple. Shaped like a butterfly, it’s two ‘wings’ are usually situated on either side of the windpipe. According to Matthew Hoffman, MD for WebMD, thyroids are reddish-brown in color due to its rich blood supply while being approximately two inches wide in size. Since this small gland serves a very important purpose to our health, let’s dive into some essential facts about the thyroid:
If it’s not visible, it’s healthy
Due to its small size and enigmatic nature, many are confused about how to tell if it’s healthy or not. While there are many symptoms that can present themselves in the case of an unhealthy thyroid, the best way to tell if your thyroid is healthy or not is by its visibility. A hidden thyroid is a healthy thyroid, but if it’s pronounced on the neck, then you may need to visit your health professional. There are many thyroid conditions that can cause the thyroid to swell or to develop nodules–two things that a doctor can see or feel through the skin.
It produces hormones
The thyroid produces three types of hormones–triiodothyronine (T3), tetraiodothyronine (T4), and calcitonin. While the T3 and T4 hormones accomplished almost all of the functions of the thyroid, the calcitonin hormone greatly impacts calcium and bone metabolism.
The thyroid is controlled by the pituitary gland
The pituitary gland regulates the amount of hormones that are released into the bloodstream. This function is commonly referred to as ‘thyroid-stimulating hormone’ (TSH). However, if abnormal levels of TSH are released into the bloodstream, this could be an indication of a thyroid problem. To best determine if a thyroid is working properly, doctors will typically run tests on the TSH.
Your thyroid impacts your entire body
While regulating hormones, your thyroid helps to control your metabolic rate, stimulates cells to produce proteins, affects heart rate, skin maintenance, body heat production, fertility, digestion, and so much more.
Since your thyroid plays an essential role in the overall functionality of your body, if it’s not healthy, it can pose a variety of problems. For example, sudden spells of fatigue and weight gain are associated symptoms of an underactive thyroid. Whereas an increase in heart rate, excessive sweating, and insomnia are signs of an overactive thyroid. Currently, over 12 million Americans have a thyroid condition, and more than 12% of the Us population will develop a thyroid condition in their lifetime according to the American Thyroid Association. Even though it’s small in size, your thyroid plays such an essential role in your overall health, and knowing more about this gland can help you in your journey to stay happy and healthy.