What is a thyroid gland?
The thyroid gland is a part of the endocrine system, which is responsible for the production and communication of hormones. The thyroid gland is shaped like a butterfly and is located right in front of the neck, wrapped around the windpipe. The thyroid gland releases hormones that play an integral role in the way your body functions. And when your thyroid gland is not functioning properly, it can take a toll on your entire body.
How does the thyroid gland function?
The thyroid gland releases and controls specific hormones that regulate your metabolism. Metabolism is a process where the food you consume is converted into energy. The energy that is produced is used throughout the body for many of its functions.
More specifically, the thyroid controls your metabolism with two major hormones triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). These hormones are created in the thyroid gland and control how much energy your body uses. When your thyroid is functioning properly, it will maintain the right amount of hormones to keep your metabolism working at the right rate.
All of this is supervised by the pituitary gland, located in your brain. This gland watches and controls the amount of thyroid hormones that are released into your bloodstream. When the pituitary gland senses there is a low or high level of thyroid hormone, it will counteract this with the thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). The TSH is sent from the pituitary gland to the thyroid and will tell the thyroid what is needed for balance.
What happens when the thyroid is not working properly?
Thyroid disease is a term used when your thyroid is not producing the correct amounts of hormones. There can be two ways this can happen. One is when your thyroid makes too many hormones, this is called hyperthyroidism. When this happens your body uses energy quickly, leaving you tired, causing unexplained weight loss, and even making you feel nervous. Number two is the complete opposite. When your thyroid does not make enough hormones, it is called hypothyroidism. Symptoms include fatigue, weight gain, and not being able to tolerate cold temperatures.
There are many different factors as to how or why someone may have thyroid disease. And over the next few blog posts, we will dive deeper into how thyroid disease occurs in the body and what you can do about it.
If you think you may have concerns about your thyroid, your doctor should order the TSH test along with the Free T3 hormone and the free T4 hormone. Unfortunately, only the TSH test is covered by most insurance plans so thyroid problems can go undetected for years because the TSH is produced in the brain, not in the thyroid gland.
At the Lifestyle Clinic, we do things differently through our online program. We routinely check all the thyroid hormones for our members because the TSH alone is not sufficient to detect thyroid problems early. Early detection of thyroid issues can help prevent and reverse many thyroid symptoms and save people from needless suffering for years. If you are interested in finding out more about working with us at The Lifestyle Clinic, click here.