Thyroid Gland is an organ in our neck that controls the metabolic rate of energy production in our body. A normal Thyroid Gland is nearly 5 cms long and has a weight that ranges from 10 to 15 grams. It is butterfly-shaped with two lobes, which are connected by a part of it acting as a bridge and known as isthmus. Brownish-red in colour, the thyroid is rich with blood vessels. The Thyroid Gland is located in the neck below the Adam’s apple and in front of the windpipe. It covers the windpipe from three sides. The hormones of the Thyroid gland, T3 and T4, help the body to produce and regulate adrenaline, epinephrine, and dopamine – all three of which are active in brain chemistry.
It comprises two types of cells known as follicular cells and parafollicular cells, which are both responsible for secreting different types of hormones. The Thyroid Gland produces thyroid hormones which is a collection of hormones produced by the two types of cells of Thyroid Gland. Follicular cells secrete thyroxine (also known as T4) and triiodothyronine. Parafollicular cells are responsible for producing the calcitonin hormone.
The Thyroid Gland is mainly responsible for regulating the metabolism of producing energy and calcium balance in our body. The thyroxine and triiodothyroxine produce proteins which help in increasing the amount of oxygen for the body cells. The calcitonin helps in the regulation of the calcium level in our body. The thyroid secretes several hormones, collectively called thyroid hormones. The main hormone is thyroxine, also called T4. Thyroid hormones act throughout the body, influencing metabolism, growth and development and body temperature. During infancy and childhood, adequate thyroid hormone is crucial for brain development.
The Thyroid Gland requires iodine to produce hormones and when there is insufficient iodine, the Thyroid Gland swells up causing goitre. The swelling of thyroid is also caused due to viral infection or autoimmune condition, then, it is called thyroiditis. When there is excessive production of thyroid hormones, it leads to Hyperthyroidism. Hypothyroidism is another disease caused when there is low production of hormones which is mainly caused by autoimmune diseases. Another major thyroid disease is the Thyroid Cancer.
To determine if our thyroid is functioning properly or not, we just need to conduct thyroid function tests. Such as:
Blood tests: The level of thyroid-stimulating hormone is checked because if there are more such hormones it indicates an inactive thyroid. This test also checks the level of thyroxine and triiodothyroxine.
Ultrasound exam of the Thyroid Gland: It checks the growth and irregularities of Thyroid Gland through the ultrasound scan which creates an image of Thyroid Gland using the high-frequency sound waves.
Thyroid scans using radioactive iodine or technetium: It uses these radioactive elements to find out if there are any physical abnormalities.
Functional stimulation tests: This test is done to differentiate if the problem caused is related to thyroid or the parathyroid gland.