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Thyroid Disorders

Anatomy and physiology of the thyroid gland

The thyroid gland is butterfly-shaped in the lower part of your neck, in front of your windpipe. The thyroid gland produces hormones that influence other glands and many physiological functions. Thyroid hormones regulate your body’s metabolism, which refers to all the chemical processes that take place in your body. This includes the production of energy and hormones, tissue growth, elimination of waste products, and the distribution of nutrients in the blood.

Your thyroid produces two thyroid hormones: thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). These hormones are secreted into your blood circulation and regulate the function of every cell and tissue in your body. T4 and T3 are necessary for good health, metabolism, and control of energy levels.

The hypothalamus and pituitary gland in your brain regulate T4 and T3 production. When T4 and T3 levels are low, the hypothalamus produces thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) to signal the pituitary gland to produce thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and vice versa. The TSH travels in the bloodstream and signals the thyroid gland to produce more T4 and T3. When T4 and T3 levels are high, the pituitary gland stops producing TSH.

The different types of thyroid disorders are:

  • Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid gland) insert hyperlink
  • Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) insert hyperlink
  • Thyroid nodules insert hyperlink
  • Thyroid cancer insert hyperlink
At a Glance

Dr. Reena Thomas, MD

  • Dual American board-certified endocrinologist
  • Author of numerous academic and clinic research
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