Thyroid conditions affect the proper functioning of the thyroid, a small gland located in the neck that influences most of the body’s metabolic function through the production of two hormones – T3 (triiodothyronine and T4 (thyroxine). The production of T3 and T4, which are collectively referred to as thyroid hormone, is regulated by thyroid stimulating hormone or TSH, a hormone produced by another small gland in the brain known as the pituitary. Thyroid hormone is known to affect energy production, growth, development, and the functioning of the circulatory, nervous, and reproductive systems. Because of these widespread effects, improper levels of thyroid hormone caused by thyroid conditions can have major effects on the body including appetite changes, weight gain or loss, fatigue, hair loss, and heart palpitations.
There are four major types of thyroid diseases and conditions. These are:
- Hypothyroidism. Also called underactive thyroid. . This condition develops when the thyroid gland doesn’t make enough thyroid hormone.
- Hyperthyroidism. Also called overactive thyroid. Hyperthyroidism develops when increased TSH production by the pituitary causes the thyroid gland to produce too much thyroid hormone.
- Thyroid Nodules. Thyroid Nodules are small growths on the surface of the thyroid that vary in size and typically do not majorly interfere with thyroid function . Occasionally, thyroid nodules can cause hyperthyroidism, can be cancerous, or can grow large enough to interfere with breathing or swallowing.