Published January 28, 2023
When most people think of hormones, their minds are drawn to testosterone and estrogen. However, there are actually at least 50 hormones in the human body produced by different organs in the endocrine system. The thyroid is one of the most essential of these organs.
Location of the Thyroid Gland
The thyroid gland is part of the endocrine system. It is a small, butterfly-shaped organ found at the base of the neck in front of the throat and to either side of the windpipe that is around two inches long. The thyroid has two lobes that lie on either side of the windpipe, plus four parathyroid glands that sit in the back of the organ. The parathyroid glands are very small and, according to realtimecampaign.com, comprise only around 0.3% of the thyroid's weight.
Purpose of the Thyroid
The purpose of the thyroid is to convert the iodine consumed in foods into two hormones that are crucial for maintaining metabolic health, triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). Together, these hormones regulate the production of energy, which helps to control everything from breathing and heart rate to muscle strength and cholesterol levels. Those interested in the many ways that thyroid hormones influence health can investigate this site for additional information.
The Importance of Keeping Hormones Balanced
The thyroid works with other organs in the endocrine system to keep levels of T3 and T4 balanced. More specifically, it communicates with the pituitary and hypothalamus regions of the brain to regulate their release. Too much or too little of these hormones can cause a range of potentially serious problems throughout the body.
When the thyroid produces larger than necessary amounts of T3 and T4 hormones, it causes a condition called hyperthyroidism. This condition can cause irritability, nervousness, hyperactivity, hand trembling, anxiety, and other symptoms. It's also often accompanied by a slow heart rate, diarrhea, and weight loss due to the slowing of the body's metabolic processes.
When someone's thyroid hormone production is low, it's called hypothyroidism. This condition causes a range of symptoms, from fatigue and difficulty concentrating to joint and muscle pain, and it can be caused by other issues. But What Is Secondary Hypothyroidism? It occurs when someone's insufficient production of thyroid hormones is actually a symptom of another disease or disorder, which means it goes away when the underlying cause is removed.
Ongoing Thyroid Research
Research into thyroid pathologies is ongoing. Scientists studying the causes of both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can use 3D human thyroid microtissues supplied by companies like LifeNet Health to identify compounds that could disrupt endocrine activity. These kinds of tools have allowed researchers to advance their knowledge significantly in recent years, helping countless people suffering from thyroid disorders.
The Future of Thyroid Knowledge
Endocrinologists already have a clear idea of thyroid anatomy and physiology. Research into the various pathologies affecting the thyroid gland, however, is ongoing. As scientists continue to progress their knowledge, patients suffering from the various forms of hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism will have greater access to not just knowledge but also a greater range of potential treatments.