What is the thyroid gland?
The thyroid gland is a gland located in the front region of our necks, resembling the shape of a butterfly. It is an endocrine gland that stores and produces many hormones. These hormones affect almost every cell in your body and help control the functions of many organs. Many consequences can arise when the thyroid gland that doesn’t function properly. Furthermore, the thyroid gland works in conjunction with other glands and, if not functioning properly, communication between glands may be disrupted. For such a small gland, it carries a huge responsibility in making sure our bodies function appropriately.
What symptoms can occur from a thyroid gland that doesn’t function appropriately?
Abnormal levels of thyroid hormones can trigger many symptoms. If your thyroid hormones are too low (your body isn’t producing enough thyroid hormone), your body slows down. You can experience symptoms such as:
- abnormal weight gain
- cold intolerance
- hair loss
- excessive sleep
In contrast, an overactive thyroid is due to the overproduction of thyroid hormones. Symptoms can include:
- increased heart rate
- heart palpitations
These symptoms are non-specific, however. A lot of conditions can cause similar symptoms, and it is always best to follow-up with your Primary Care Provider to discuss your symptoms and assess whether further evaluation is needed.
How do I know if my thyroid gland isn’t properly working?
To begin with, your physician can do a physical exam and palpate the thyroid to see if there are abnormalities. If needed, a few simple blood tests can be done to diagnose whether or not your thyroid is contributing to your symptoms. In fact, the thyroid is so important that many doctors will include it with the other basic blood work that’s performed when you have your physical. Treatment, whether it involves medication or a procedure, can be very effective in treating your thyroid disease. Thus, it is always best to share your ailments with your physician, as thyroid disease is a medical problem that can be easily screened for, diagnosed, and treated.