I suffer from hypothyroidism and know that others have it too. So I am writing a 10 part series on it, which will be for the next Two weeks. Here is the first part of the series:

What is the function of the thyroid gland?

Ever wonder how the thyroid gland functions and why it’s so important to health?

This butterfly shaped organ regulates nearly every system in your body and has a direct impact on your energy and metabolism. It’s located at the base of your neck and produces hormones that assist with vital functions, such as heart rate, muscle strength, body weight, and breathing. These hormones play a key role in cellular activity and overall health.

How the Thyroid Gland Works

The thyroid gland helps regulate metabolism and growth by constantly releasing Thyroxine (T4) and Triiodothyronine (T3). The pituitary gland and the hypothalamus work together to maintain hormone balance. Your thyroid is about two inches long and has two lobes that are connected by the isthmus, a strip of tissue. Its role is to produce, store, and release hormones into your system.

Thyroid hormones are crucial for the proper functioning of your body. They help children grow, regulate metabolism, and help maintain blood pressure, body temperature, and heart rate. The levels of thyroid hormones in your bloodstream can rise or fall, affect your mood, energy, and health.

If the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough hormones, you might feel cold, depressed, and tired. Weight gain may occur too. An overactive thyroid, on the other hand, will cause unexplained weight loss, sleep problems, increased heart rate, difficulty concentrating, and irritability.

The thyroid gland uses iodine to produce T3 and T4 as well as calcitonin, a hormone involved in calcium metabolism. Iodine is found in a variety of foods, such as strawberries, yogurt, sea vegetables, eggs, dairy, and iodized salt. The recommended intake ranges from 150 to 1100 micrograms per day.

Common Thyroid Problems

Diseases of the thyroid can affect your heath on every level. This gland can become underactive (hypothyroidism) or overactive (hyperthyroidism), increase in size (goiter), or produce too many hormones (thyrotoxicosis). Other common thyroid disorders include thyroiditis, solitary thyroid nodules, thyroid cancer, and Hashimoto’s disease.

Each year, millions of people are diagnosed with hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, and thyroiditis. These conditions can be triggered by aging, inflammation of the thyroid gland, iodine efficiency, autoimmune diseases, sarcoidosis, and hormonal imbalances.

Hashimoto’s disease is the most common cause of hypothyroidism, causing fatigue, intolerance to cold, puffy face, dry skin, hair loss, constipation, and weight gain.

Graves’ disease is often the main culprit behind hyperthyroidism. This disorder causes severe anxiety, enlarged thyroid, frequent bowel movements, excessive sweating, arrhythmia, hand tremors, and mood swings.

It is estimated that over 30 million Americans have undiagnosed thyroid disease. The risk of hypothyroidism in women is five times higher than that in men. Older people, as well as those who are taking Amiodarone or Lithium, or have a family history of thyroid disease, should get tested regularly.

Even the slightest thyroid problem can put you at risk for chronic diseases, miscarriage, peripheral neuropathy, infertility, thyrotoxic crisis, and osteoporosis.

If left untreated, thyroid disorders may lead to heart disease, high cholesterol, obesity, chronic fatigue, arthritis, and autoimmune conditions. The bottom line is, if this gland isn’t working properly, neither are you.

It is very important to get your blood tested regularly to ensure that your thyroid is healthy and functioning properly.