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All About Your Thyroid: What is a Thyroid and What Does it Do?

Many people experience health problems related to their thyroid. However, you may not know what your thyroid does, or what role it plays in your health. Let’s explore what a thyroid is, health problems that are associated with the thyroid, and what you can do about them.

What is a Thyroid?

A thyroid is a gland that is part of the endocrine system. It is located near the base of your neck near your throat. Like other glands in this system, the thyroid gland secretes hormones that travel through your circulatory system to various parts of your body. The hormones produced by the thyroid affect how much energy your body uses. In children and teenagers, these hormones affect how kids grow.

Thyroid Problems

Thyroids can have many problems, but specifically, they often produce either too much or too little of essential hormones. This leads to hyperthyroidism (too many hormones) or hypothyroidism (not enough hormones).

Hyperthyroidism significantly speeds up your body’s metabolism. Someone affected by hyperthyroidism may experience rapid weight loss, sweating, and a general feeling of anxiousness.

Hypothyroidism is the opposite. Someone with hypothyroidism may feel sluggish, tired, and find that they are rapidly gaining weight.

What causes Thyroid Problems?

Thyroid problems have many causes including autoimmune disorders, certain types of medications, and low-iodine diets. Also, certain types of cancer treatments can trigger thyroid problems.

If you or your child is experiencing any of the symptoms described above, please consult a primary care doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor may prescribe medications that will make up for a deficiency in thyroid hormones or lower the levels of hormones in a body with an over-active thyroid. In extreme cases, you or your child may need to meet with a specialist to see if you need surgery to treat a thyroid problem.

Also, appropriate thyroid levels are important during pregnancy. If you are pregnant, it’s important to check with your doctor to make sure your thyroid levels are not too high or too low. An unhealthy thyroid can have a negative impact on your baby’s development. Fortunately, your doctor can offer assistance.

Overall, be aware of your body or your child’s body if you are a parent. If you notice sluggishness, or are feeling a higher level of anxiety, know that you may be experiencing a thyroid problem, and that your doctor can help.

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