What Is Thyroid?

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland situated at the front of the neck. It is an endocrine gland that produces hormones to regulate the body's metabolic rate, called thyroxine or T4, and triiodothyronine or T3. It also produces calcitonin, which helps regulate calcium levels and phosphorous in the blood. The thyroid gland also produces proteins and enzymes that control blood clotting.

What Are the Different Types of Thyroid Disease?

The two main types of thyroid disease are hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. Hyperthyroidism is an over-active thyroid gland, resulting in excessive production of thyroid hormones. This can cause numerous symptoms such as an accelerated heart rate, anxiety, weight loss, sweating, and irritability.

Hypothyroidism is an underactive thyroid gland, leading to decreased production of thyroid hormones. This can cause a person to have fatigue, depression, weight gain, cold intolerance, and constipation.

What Are the Symptoms of Thyroid Disease?

Symptoms of thyroid disease may include:

  • Tiredness or fatigue
  • Unexplained weight gain or loss
  • Changes in mood or mood swings
  • Hair loss or thinning
  • Dry skin or rashes
  • Muscle aches and joint pain
  • Enlarged thyroid gland (goiter)
  • Changes in bowel movements
  • Irregular menstrual periods
  • Decreased libido

How Is Thyroid Disease Diagnosed?

Thyroid disease is usually diagnosed by a physical exam and by measuring the levels of thyroid hormones in the blood.

How Is Thyroid Disease Treated?

Treatment of thyroid disease depends on the type and severity of the disease. Hyperthyroidism can be treated with medications, lifestyle changes, or surgery. Hypothyroidism is usually treated with thyroid hormone supplements.