Health & Medical Diseases & Conditions

Understanding the Human Thyroid

The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland located at the bottom part of the neck and is wrapped around the windpipe. It is responsible for producing and storing thyroid hormones that regulate body temperature, heart rate, blood pressure and the rate of conversion of food into energy.

Thyroid uses iodine, a mineral usually found in iodized salt, to make its hormones. Lack of iodine in the body may lead to thyroid diseases like goiter.

Common Thyroid Diseases

A dysfunctional thyroid gland may lead to some diseases like hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism and Hashimoto's thyroiditis or Hashimoto's disease.


Hypothyroidism happens when the body produces too little thyroid hormones. Since thyroid hormones are responsible for the rate of metabolism, a slow metabolism plus weight gain is the most common sign of this disease.

Also, people who suffer from hypothyroidism experiences great amounts of hair loss. Hypothyroidism is easily detected through a blood test. More often than not, treatment for this disease is as easy as taking one pill a day. However, it is still best to consult with a physician.


Hyperthyroidism is the total opposite of hypothyroidism. This disease is due to the over production of thyroid hormones. Some of its symptoms include fatigue, increased bowel movements and weight loss.

Hyperthyroidism may also be easily detected through a blood test. Treatments for hyperthyroidism include antithyroid drugs, radioactive iodine and surgery to remove some parts of the thyroid gland.

Hashimoto's Thyroiditis

Hashimoto's thyroiditis is more commonly known as Hashimoto's disease. This condition is cause by the inflammation of the thyroid gland. Hashimoto's thyroiditis may lead to hypothyroidism if left untreated. This disease is an autoimmune disease which means that the body's immune system unsuitably attacks the thyroid gland therefore causing inflammation.

Symptoms of this disease are almost the same as hypothyroidism. Unfortunately, there is no known cure for this disease because there are no ways to find out how long will the autoimmune process of the body will continue.

Caring for the Thyroid Gland

As the old saying goes, prevention is always better than cure. What then are the ways to protect the thyroid gland and to keep it healthy?
First thing to do is to have regular levels of iodine in the body. Iodine rich foods include cranberries, organic navy beans, organic strawberries, dairy products, potatoes and iodized salt. Also, some multivitamin supplements with iodine are available in drugstores.

Next, stay away from canned foods which affect the digestive enzymes of the body and may lead to a malfunctioning thyroid.

Lastly, avoid unnecessary exposure to radiation especially during CT scans especially on the head and neck. When dental X-rays need to be performed, make sure you are equipped with a thyroid shield.

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