An estimated 200 million people suffer from thyroid problems worldwide, however, 60% of those who have an under or over active thyroid don't know that they do.
In honour of Thyroid Awareness Month, LetsGetChecked want to tell you everything you need to know about thyroid issues from the first signs that you may have a thyroid condition to screening and solutions.
Your thyroid gland makes up part of the endocrine system which is responsible for controlling your hormones
Women are 5-8 times more likely to suffer from thyroid issues than men.
It is estimated that 20% of people will experience thyroid problems before they turn 60.
- What Is The Thyroid Gland?
- What Are The Symptoms Of Thyroid Issues?
- How Does The Thyroid Gland Work?
- Explained: Hyperthyroidism Or Overactive Thyroid
- Explained: Hypothyroidism Or Underactive Thyroid
- Should You Get Your Thyroid Tested?
- Learn More About Thyroid Problems With Dr. Dominic Rowley
What Is The Thyroid Gland?
The thyroid is a small gland located in the middle of the lower neck. The male thyroid gland is located just below the Adam’s apple.
The thyroid gland produces two thyroid hormones which are responsible all cell functions including regulating your metabolism, hair growth, breathing and heart rate.
The thyroid gland is responsible for the production and secretion of thyroid hormones, triidothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4).
Triidothyronine (T3) plays a role in your body's metabolic rate, regulating the digestive system, muscle control, brain development and the function and maintenance of bones. The thyroid gland will produce a ratio of 20% of T3 to T4, however it is 4 times as potent as T4. Triidothyronine is the "active form" of the thyroid hormones produced by the thyroid gland.
Thyroxine (T4) is the main hormone produced by the thyroid gland. Thyroxine has the same role as triidothyronine. The thyroid gland will produce a ratio of 80% T4 to T3, however it does nothave as active a role as T3 does. It is the "inactive" form of the thyroid hormones produced by the thyroid gland.
To simplify this, you could say that T3 is the key player in making things happen within your body. T4 on the other hand is the carrier or transporter of T3 around the body.
The thyroid gland is the engine behind the production and secretion of both thyroid hormones. If your thyroid gland isn't performing optimally, neither are you.
What Are The Symptoms Of Thyroid Issues?
So, what does it mean if you have an underactive thyroid or an overactive thyroid?
In cases where the thyroid gland produces an insufficient volume of thyroxine and triidothyronine, you are said to have hypothyroidism or an underactive thyroid.
In cases where the thyroid gland produces a high volume of thyroxine and triidothyronine, you are said to have hyperthyroidism or an overactive thyroid.
You may experience an under or over active thyroid due to a number of other medical conditions.
The most common symptoms of hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism are changes in weight, changes in body temperatures and mood changes.
Here are the most common symptoms of thyroid isses:
How Does The Thyroid Gland Work?
The pituitary gland controls thyroid function. It is a small gland the size of a peanut at the base of the brain. When thyroxine and triiodothyronine hormones drop too low, the pituitary gland produces thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). This stimulates the thyroid gland to produce more essential hormones.
The thyroid gland takes iodine from foods and converts it into thyroid hormones: thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3)
To try and simplify this defintion, imagine that the pituitary gland is the automatic central heating in your home and thyroxine and triidothyronine represent how hot or cold your house is.
If your thyroid gland is not producing a sufficient volume of thyroid hormones to ensure that your metabolic rate is in check, your pituitary gland "switches on" the central heating. The pituitary gland will produce thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) will stimulate the production of T4 and T3.
If your thyroid gland is producing too high a volume of thyroid hormones to ensure cell function is ticking over, your pituitary gland "switches off" the central heating. The pituitary gland will stop producing thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) and will slow down the production of T4 and T3.
To fully simplify this definition, a break down in communication between members of the endocrine system is one of the most common causes of an over or under active thyroid. Physiological damage to the endocrine system and autoimmune disorders are also common causes of thyroid issues.
Explained: Hyperthyroidism Or Overactive Thyroid
Hyperthyroidism or overactive thyroid occurs when the thyroid gland produces an excessive level of thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3).
It's caused by:
- The body absorbing too much iodine as a result of Graves’ disease (an immune-system disorder)
- Inflammation of the thyroid due to infections
Hyperthyroidism can be treated by surgery or medications to slow hormone production down.
Explained: Hypothyroidism Or Underactive Thyroid
Hypothyroidism works in the opposite way to hyperthyroidism. An under-active thyroid occurs when the gland does not secrete enough hormones.
It’s caused by:
- Low levels of iodine and inflammation of the thyroid gland due to autoimmune reactions
- Radiation exposure
Hypothyroidism can be treated with surgery or medications to speed hormone production up.
Should You Get Your Thyroid Tested?
In this video, Dr. Dominic Rowley explains how at home health testing works:
Learn More About Thyroid Problems With Dr. Dominic Rowley
In this video, Dr. Dominic Rowley recaps on everything you need to know about your thyoid:
Written by Hannah Kingston | Approved by Medical Director Dominic Rowley