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The Thyroid gland: its role and its problems. - Dr Sylvie ROUX-GUINOT - Docvadis

The Thyroid gland: its role and its problems.

The purpose of your thyroid gland is to make, store, and release thyroid hormones into your blood. The thyroid's main job is to control the body's metabolism. These hormones affect almost every cell in your body, and help control your body’s functions. Thyroid diseases are usually classified into 2 types of problems primarily involving the structure of the thyroid gland (goiter, nodule , cancer )or function of the thyroid gland (over active hyperactive thyroid or underactive hypoactive thyroid ).

The thyroid : its role and its disorders

What’s the thyroid gland ?

Your thyroid is a gland located at the base of your neck, just below your Adam’s apple.

The thyroid looks like a butterfly with lobes on either side of the windpipe which are connected by a middle piece called the isthmus that sits right on top of the windpipe trachea).

Right gland measures 23.3 by 30.1 by 67.3 mm and left gland measures 24.0 by 28.2 by 66.7 mm.


 Picture of the thyroid

Its role

The thyroid's main job is to control the body's metabolism (i.e. energy levels, temperature control, how fast the heart beats, how quickly food moves through the gastro-intestinal tract, how fast sugar is made and used up in the body, bone loss, and other important body functions).

Iodine obtained from dietary intake is an essential element that enables the thyroid gland to produce thyroid hormones.

The amount of thyroid hormone made by your thyroid gland is adjusted by a gland in the brain called the pituitary.

For example, just as the thermometer in a thermostat senses the temperature of a room, your pituitary gland constantly senses the amount of thyroid hormone in your blood.

If there is not enough thyroid hormone, your pituitary senses the need to “turn on the heat”. It does this by releasing more thyroid-stimulating hormone (or TSH), which signals your thyroid to make more thyroid hormone. Your thyroid gland then makes and releases the hormone directly into your bloodstream (hypothroidism)

Conversly, an increase in the blood rate of T4 will exert a negative feedback on the hypothalamo-hypophyseal axis. Once the T4 in the blood stream goes above a certain level, the pituitary’s production of TSH (case of the hyperthyroidism).


Thyroid Hormone Feedback Loop

Its morphology
  • A goitre is an enlarged thyroid gland (Diffuse smooth goitre or Nodular goitres)

  • Thyroid nodules (mass or « balls » in the thyroid)

  • Cancer

Its function
  • Underactive hypoactive thyroid : hypotthyroidism

  • Over active hyper active thyroid : hyperthyroidism

- Goiter, nodules and cancer

- Hypothyroidism

- Hyperthyroidism

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