Human Anatomy – Thyroid
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- Human Anatomy – Esophagus
- Human Anatomy – Liver
- Human Anatomy – Gallbladder
- Human Anatomy – Spleen
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- Human Anatomy – Appendix
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- Human Anatomy – Kidneys
- Human Anatomy – Prostate
- Human Anatomy – Vagina
- Human Anatomy – Heart
- Human Anatomy – Skin
- Human Anatomy – Aorta
- Human Anatomy – Thyroid
- Human Anatomy – Lungs
- Human Anatomy – Brain
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- Human Anatomy – Ears
- Human Anatomy – Sinuses
- Human Anatomy – Trachea
- Human Anatomy – Blood
- Human Anatomy – Rotator Cuff
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- Human Anatomy – Achilles Tendon
Shaped like a butterfly, the thyroid gland secretes some of the body’s most important hormones. The thyroid hormones have an assortment of functions, which include no less than controlling the body’s temperature, maintaining growth and development, and influencing metabolism. If anyone, a growing child needs thyroid hormones for his or her brain to fully develop.
Two of the most important hormones in the body come from the thyroid: thyroxine (a.k.a. T4) and triiodothyronine (a.k.a. T3).
Located just below the Adam’s apple, across the windpipe, the thyroid is one of the largest endocrine glands. It is divided into a pair of side lobes, connected to each other via an isthmus or bridge. Nerves crucial to voice pass through the thyroid.
Thyroid diseases and conditions
When the thyroid swells, you have goiter. According to healthy lifestyle advocates, this condition is associated with a deficiency in iodine, especially in diet. Other times, it is linked to a kind of thyroid inflammation known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
Generally, inflammation of the thyroid is called thyroiditis. It is either caused by a virus or an autoimmune condition.
If the thyroid produces fewer hormones than normal, it is said to be under hypothyroidism. The most common cause of this condition is autoimmune disease.
If the thyroid produces hormones in excess instead, it is said to be suffering from hyperthyroidism. At its worst, hyperthyroidism can set off a thyroid storm, wherein hormone levels go up so high they cause illness, but this rarely happens. Graves disease, an autoimmune condition that causes the thyroid to become overactive, is known to cause hyperthyroidism. If not, hyperthyroidism is most often caused by an overly active nodule, a small lump in the thyroid. Nodules are quite common; if they don’t trigger hyperthyroidism, they do not cause harm.
Besides hyperthyroidism, nodules are known to cause cancer of the thyroid. Opportunely, thyroid cancer is curable and rare.
Treating thyroid conditions
Thyroidectomy or thyroid surgery may be made the recourse for goiter or hyperthyroidism. The surgeon may decide to remove the thyroid entirely or just part of it.
Alternatively, someone with hyperthyroidism can take oral medicines to impede the excessive production of thyroid hormones. Propylthiouracil and methimazole are popular examples of these medicines.
Radiation can also be used to treat hyperthyroidism. One method uses radioactive iodine to obliterate the offending tissues.
In the case of hypothyroidism, the patient should take thyroid hormone pills every day. These drugs are made to compensate for the lack of important thyroid hormones in the body.
Thyroid hormone drugs are also designed to prevent thyroid cancer from recurring after treatment, which usually means radiation. In radiation, the doctor aims high-energy radioactive beams at the thyroid. This procedure may be spread over a number of sessions. Or else, the doctor uses huge doses of radioactive iodine to obliterate the cancerous tissue. Radiation often comes with surgery and hormonal treatment.
Tests for thyroid conditions
Blood tests can determine the presence of T3 and T4, or the lack thereof, in the body. These tests can also detect TSH or the thyroid stimulating hormone, a hormone released from the brain to control the release of hormones from the thyroid. Low levels of TSH mean hyperthyroidism, while high levels suggest hypothyroidism. Blood tests are also on the lookout for proteins hostile to peroxidase, an enzyme used to produce thyroid hormones.
Ultrasound goes a long way in detecting thyroid conditions. In this test, a probe is placed around the neck, whence sound waves would bounce off to create images of the thyroid.
There are several ways to check for thyroid cancer. For instance, the doctor may request for a biopsy, wherein a tissue from the thyroid is removed by needle for lab tests. A blood test can easily detect the presence of thyroglobulins, the presence of which tips off cancerous cells.
However, such a blood test is often used as a follow-up rather than as a means to diagnose thyroid cancer. MRI scans, CT scans, and PET may be used to diagnose the cancer instead. In any of these tests, the medical examiner may inject the patient with recombinant human TSH to make images of the thyroid clearer.
Diet For Thyroid Balance (credit: Positive Health Wellness)