Put your fingers on the front part of your neck, below the Adam's apple, and swallow. Do you feel a small organ, slipping under the fingers?
This butterfly-like gland is called thyroid gland. It consists of two lobes, connected with isthmus.
It uses iodine from foods to create thyroid hormones called thyroxine and triiodothyronine. Owing to them, thyroid gland has ability to control numerous body functions, including metabolism, body temperature, heart rate, menstrual cycle, fertility and mental performance.
In fact, thyroid gland doesn't work independently. Synthesis of thyroid hormones is controlled by thyroid-stimulating hormone, produced by the pituitary gland. It, in turn, stays under the control of the brain's part, called hypothalamus.
Sometimes problems may happen in any part of this system, causing excessive or insufficient generation of the thyroid hormones.
Too low production of thyroxine and triiodothyronine is medically called hypothyroidism. In the majority of cases it occurs, when person's immune cells begin to attack his or her own thyroid gland by mistake. The name of this condition is Hashimoto's thyroiditis.
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Actually statistics say that women are much more likely to have this disorder than men.
Underactive thyroid gland may be also a result of surgical treatment of hyperthyroidism, when specialists remove the whole thyroid gland.
It's not uncommon for those, who get radiation treatment for cancer,or autoimmune hyperthyroidism (Grave's disease) to suffer from thyroxine and triiodothyronine deficiency.
It was also found that certain medicines such as amiodarone, lithium and interferon alpha, can lead to hypothyroidism, if consumed for a long time.
When body's cells don't get sufficient amount of thyroid hormones, all processes in the organism slow down bit by bit. That's why hypothyroid patients often complain of one or more of these symptoms:
· Inexplicable fatigue – you may feel extremely tired without any reason, if your thyroid gland doesn't work properly.
· Sleepiness – lack of energy and constant want to nap are rather common symptoms of hypothyroidism. Even if you sleep well, you may feel tired and exhausted, when your butterfly-shaped organ doesn’t work well.
· Weight gain – gaining extra pounds may be really terrible event for most of us. Low levels of thyroid hormones can make your metabolism extremely slow that leads to weight gain, even if you don't eat high-calorie foods.
· Feeling cold – decreased metabolism can significantly reduce production of the body heat. As a result, people with hypothyroidism often experience cold intolerance.
· Hair loss – underactive thyroid can delay hair regeneration and cause excessive hair loss.
· Constipation – in hypothyroidism all body processes, including digestion, become sluggish. That's why people commonly complain of constipation.
· Brain fog – those with underactive thyroid gland may suffer from impaired memory and difficulty concentrating.
· Heavy periods – decreased production of thyroid hormones can make your menstrual cycle irregular and cause unusually heavy menstrual bleeding.
Sources: Thyroid, Healthline, Mayoclinic, Medicalnewstoday
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