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Thyroid is a small butterfly-shaped gland inside the neck, located in front of the trachea (windpipe) and below the larynx (voicebox). Thyroid glandproduces two thyroid hormones - triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4) that travel through the blood to all tissues of the body.
Thyroid hormones regulate basic metabolism of body (that is how the body breaks down food and either uses that energy immediately or stores it for the future). The functioning of thyroid gland is controlled by pituitary gland (located at the base of the brain), which produces thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). The bloodstream carries TSH to the thyroid gland, and signals the thyroid gland to produce more thyroid hormones, as needed.
Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormones to meet the needs of the body. Hence it causes symptoms related to a slow metabolism. Major symptoms associated with hypothyroidism are muscle weakness, constipation, weight gain, elevated blood cholesterol level, joint pain.
In hyperthyroidism, body produces excessive amount of thyroid hormones. Hence it causes symptoms related to a high metabolism. Major symptoms include sudden weight loss, rapid heartbeat, and increased appetite.
Women are having problems with thyroid gland 3-10 times more, than men. Women are very sensitive to any hormonal changes and hence react sharper than the calm male body.
The most common cause of hyperthyroidism in women is the autoimmune condition known as Graves’ disease (where antibodies target the gland and cause it to speed up hormone production) this leads to overactivity of the thyroid gland. Graves’s disease is most common in women over the age of 20.
To diagnose thyroid problems, doctor may do physical examination by knowing patient medical history and can suggest different blood tests which includes thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) test, T3 test and T4 (thyroxine) test.
If it remains untreated, it can cause severe disease like heart problems, increase cholesterol level, infertility, mental health issues and myxedema (which causes swelling of tissues, increase fluid around heart and lungs).