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What is the Thyroid?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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The thyroid is a large endocrine gland located in the neck. For men, the gland is located just below the area known as the Adam’s apple. While most people do not think much about the function of the thyroid, this gland can have a profound impact on both the physical and emotional well being of the individual.

In design, this gland is essentially in the form of a “u.” Working in conjunction with the hypothalamus and pituitary gland, the thyroid helps to control a number of body functions that are extremely important, such as body metabolism, breathing and the production of several hormones that regulate various body systems.

For the most part, little attention is given to this gland until it begins to malfunction. The two most common types of problems are known as hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. In both cases, the normal production of the various hormones is thrown out of balance. In turn, the overproduction or underproduction of those hormones to have a negative impact on the rest of the body.

Hypothyroidism, which is a lack of sufficient hormone production, can have severe consequences. In children, the underactive production can lead to stunted growth as well as create learning disabilities and upset the emotional balance. For adults who experience hypothyroidism, they may become easily agitated, nervous, anxious and experience other issues ranging from depression to extreme mood swings.

When hyperthyroidism is present, the overactive production of thyroid hormones can also create undesirable effects. As with too little hormone production, a person suffering with this condition may also feel anxious, experience a rapid change of emotions, and in general feel constantly keyed up. It is not unusual for a goiter to develop when excess amounts of hormone are produced.

Fortunately, there are many different types of medicine that can help in treating various issues associated with this endocrine gland. In some cases, the medicines help to regulate the function of the gland so that hormone production is returned to reasonable limits. In situations where surgery may have been necessary, such as with the presence of thyroid cancer, the medication may be aimed at providing the individual with hormones that any remaining section of the gland is no longer able to produce.

It is important to note that physicians tend to try other available treatments before restarting to removing all or part of the thyroid. However, once the gland is no longer present, the individual will need to take medication to produce the same hormones and mimic the functions of the thyroid for the remainder of his or her life.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum , Writer
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including The Health Board, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.

Discussion Comments

By calabama71 — On Jul 19, 2010

@carrotisland: There are several signs and/or symptoms of thyroid trouble. If you experience sudden weight loss, tremors, sweating, increased appetite, palpitations, fatigue, menstrual problems, or swelling at the base of your neck, it could be a sign of hyperthyroidism.

There is also what is called hypothyroidism. Several of the symptoms are the same as hyperthyroidism such as fatigue, tremors, and menstrual problems. However, with hypothyroidism, weight gain, hair loss, low temperature, depression, and constipation are issues.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should see your doctor.

By CarrotIsland — On Jul 19, 2010

Are there signs or symptoms that indicate thyroid problems?

Malcolm Tatum

Malcolm Tatum


Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
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