What we call the thyroid gland is a small butterfly-shaped organelle located in the middle of the neck. Its primary function is to keep the body’s metabolism under control. You can find more information below.
What is the thyroid gland?
The thyroid gland is the organ that is located under the Adam’s apple, which is usually between 30-60 g at most. The task of this organ is the production and release of two hormones, T3 (triiodothyronine) and T4 (tetraiodothyronine or thyroxine).
These hormones precisely determine the metabolism of the organism and affect numerous bodily functions. These include energy consumption, regulation of body temperature, activity of nerves, muscles, heart, circulation, stomach and intestines, mental health, sexuality, physical and mental development, especially in children.
The production and release of hormones belonging to this organ is regulated by the pituitary gland and another region of the brain called the hypothalamus. Two control zones monitor hormone levels in the blood. If this is reduced, the pituitary gland releases the messenger substance TSH, which causes an increase in this organ’s hormone release.
On the other hand, if the hormone level exceeds normal levels, the pituitary gland holds additional TSH until normal hormone ratios are restored.
Things to know about the thyroid gland
Below are the titles that you should know about this small organelle:
1- How common are thyroid diseases?
Disorders of the thyroid gland and goiter-like changes are relatively common. They are usually harmless. Treatment is only necessary in certain situations.
2- How does the thyroid work?
Two important hormones; Triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4) are produced in the thyroid gland and enter the blood from there. To produce these hormones, the thyroid gland needs protein and iodine. Since the human body does not produce its own iodine, it must be consumed in sufficient quantities through food. If iodine deficiency occurs, the thyroid gland can enlarge and form a goiter. Calcitonin hormone produced in the thyroid gland also plays a role in calcium metabolism.
3- What is an overactive and underactive thyroid?
If the thyroid gland produces too much or too little hormone, it is said to be over- or under-functioning. This affects bodily functions controlled by the thyroid gland, and the symptoms are varied.
An overactive thyroid gland ( hyperthyroidism ), for example, can be manifested by irritability, lack of concentration, insomnia, or increased sweating.
On the other hand, symptoms of an underactive thyroid gland ( hypothyroidism ) can cause sensitivity to cold, weakness, or depressed moods.
4- Which thyroid values are normal?
The doctor usually determines the TSH value for diagnosis. TSH is a hormone produced in the pituitary gland. It controls the production of thyroid hormone. Normal is a TSH value that is in a certain spectrum. The normal range is a TSH value of 0.4 to 4. Values for thyroid hormones T3 and T4 may vary depending on life status. Young women often have higher hormone levels. However, a slightly underactive thyroid is normal in older people.
5- What are thyroid diseases?
Overactive and underactive thyroid gland can be due to various causes and diseases. An underactive thyroid is congenital only in rare cases; It is usually the result of damage to the thyroid tissue, such as inflammation. For example , in Hashimoto’s disease, the body attacks its own healthy tissues. Therefore, this disease is an autoimmune disease .
In Graves’ disease , on the other hand, it is seen that the thyroid gland produces hormones uncontrollably, which is an autoimmune disease. The body produces certain antibodies that cause an increased release of thyroid hormones.
There is also thyroid cancer (thyroid carcinoma) . The causes of this type of cancer are not fully understood. One risk factor is increased exposure to X-rays or radioactive radiation. For example, about 5000 people in Germany develop thyroid cancer each year.
6- How are thyroid diseases diagnosed?
A goiter in the neck provides the most visible sign of a possible thyroid disease, but of course not present in all disorders. Only a doctor can make a reliable diagnosis. Symptoms may indicate a problem, but symptoms may not always be obvious. For this reason, it is strongly recommended that people who are suspected of having thyroid disease should undergo a medical examination.
7- What are the treatments for thyroid diseases?
Treatment depends on the type of disease. Basically, most thyroid problems can now be treated with a high success rate. For example, tablets containing synthetic thyroxine (T4) may help patients with hypothyroidism. Hyperthyroidism is usually treated with anti-thyroid drugs, which inhibit the production of these thyroid hormones. If this precaution is not sufficient, radioiodine therapy or surgery is also an option.
8- Should I have a health check?
To a certain extent, thyroid disorders are also inherited. If your family has multiple cases of thyroid disease or goiter, a checkup may be helpful, even in the absence of acute symptoms. It is best to talk to your family doctor about this.
The doctor may palpate the thyroid gland for irregularities. In addition, he may use ultrasound to examine the organ and determine the TSH value.
9- How can protection be provided?
The most important preventive measure is adequate iodine intake. It depends on various factors such as daily needs, age and environmental impact. The recommended iodine intake for an adult is 200 micrograms.
In addition to iodized salt, many other foods also play an important role in this. The amount you take through iodized salt cannot meet your daily iodine needs. For example, bread containing large amounts of iodine is much more important for maintaining iodine balance. Milk, dairy products, fish and seafood also help meet the daily iodine requirement.
It would also be a wise choice to stay away from smoking. Cigarette smoke contains cyanide, which inhibits iodine uptake in the thyroid gland.
10- Is excess iodine harmful?
“It’s nearly impossible to consume too much iodine through daily food intake,” says endocrinologist Roland Gärtner . “However, you have to be careful with certain medications that sometimes contain large amounts of iodine.”
As you can see, although the thyroid gland itself is small, its role in our life is quite large. Knowing about this not only makes you aware of possible thyroid diseases, but also allows you to pay more attention to the health of this tiny organ.