The thyroid gland is located just below your Adam’s apple and is responsible for the regulation of your inner state of balance, or homeostasis.
The thyroid is part of the endocrine system, which includes the pituitary gland, hypothalamus, thymus, pineal gland, testes, ovaries, adrenal glands, parathyroid, and pancreas. It makes hormones (e.g., T3, T4) that travel through your bloodstream and regulate your metabolism, brain and heart function, and reproductive and menstrual cycles.
When the thyroid is not functioning optimally, a chain reaction of hormonal events takes place that involves many other glands/hormones of the endocrine system and the bodily systems they regulate. The end result is one of two primary types of health conditions: hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism.
Hyperthyroidism results when the thyroid is overactive. Think of hyperthyroidism like a car engine that is constantly revved up . Everything is on overdrive, including metabolism, frequency of bowel movements, emotions (anxiousness), increased sweating, and—in women—very light menstruation or cessation of the menstrual cycle. This person often feels hot and can’t maintain a healthy minimum weight. There are also bouts of exhaustion from trying to maintain this intense state of arousal.
Hypothyroidism results when the thyroid is underactive. It is like a car that has poor acceleration and no matter how far you push the gas pedal, it barely moves. This person has gained weight, feels sluggish, and has brittle hair and nails. It feels cold and tired, is kind of depressed, and suffers from constipation. Women with hypothyroidism usually have irregular, heavy menstruation.
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