What is the thyroid?

The thyroid is an endocrine gland located in the neck, that releases the hormones responsible for regulating metabolism. These hormones affect almost all bodily tissues, by influencing the breakdown of glucose and fat, the release of free fatty acids, cholesterol levels and other digestive functions.

Other functions of the thyroid include the following:

  • Its hormones have an effect on heartrate and the intake of oxygen, resulting in regulated blood flow and body temperature
  • Thyroid hormones promote growth and brain development in children
  • It regulates sleep, sexual function, and in women, the menstrual cycle


What is hypothyroidism?

Also known as underactive thyroid, hypothyroidism is a condition in which your thyroid does not produce enough hormones. This can result in a slower metabolism, obesity, heart disease and other conditions.

The common symptoms of hypothyroidism include the following:

  • Muscle aches
  • Pain and stiffness in the joints
  • Weight gain
  • Fatigue and lack of energy
  • Dry skin and hair
  • Heavy and/or irregular menstrual periods
  • Difficulty concentrating

Children with hypothyroidism may display poor physical and mental development, delayed puberty and slow growth of permanent teeth.


What is hyperthyroidism?

Conversely, hyperthyroidism, or overactive thyroid, happens when the thyroid produces excessive amounts of the hormones. This can result in a rapid metabolism, weight loss, nervousness and an irregular heartbeat.

Some of the symptoms of hyperthyroidism are as follows:

  • Rapid weight loss that cannot be attributed to other causes
  • A rapid or irregular heartbeat, or heart palpitations
  • Sweating and increased sensitivity to heat
  • Anxiety and nervousness
  • Altered menstrual patterns
  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep

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