This little gland in your neck should not be taken for granted
For such a small organ, the thyroid – that butterfly-shaped gland located in the front of your neck above your collarbone – wields a lot of power. It directly or indirectly controls virtually every function in the body. Here’s what you need to know.
What your thyroid does
The thyroid makes the hormones known as T4 and T3, which are used by all the cells of the body. “These hormones are essential for life,” says Dr Terry Davis. “When there is too much of them or too little then things can go seriously wrong.” Too much thyroid hormone, for example, can aggravate the heart, causing palpitations and anxiety. Too little can cause weight gain; and “because the brain is very thyroid dependent,” says Dr Davies, too little thyroid hormone can also cause depression.
Thyroid issues can affect your overall health
With great power comes great responsibility, and the thyroid is no exception. Unfortunately, there are many ways in which this gland can be thrown off, and there are a number of conditions that fall under the category of thyroid disease. The big ones are hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid gland), hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid gland), Hashimoto’s (an autoimmune disorder that attacks the thyroid, causing hypothyroidism), and Graves’ disease (an autoimmune disorder that causes hyperthyroidism). “In addition, the thyroid may form growths or even thyroid cancer,” says Dr Davies.