Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
Robert Ferry Jr., MD, is a U.S. board-certified Pediatric Endocrinologist. After taking his baccalaureate degree from Yale College, receiving his doctoral degree and residency training in pediatrics at University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA), he completed fellowship training in pediatric endocrinology at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
Thyroid disorders are conditions that affect the thyroid gland, a
butterfly-shaped gland in the front of the neck. The thyroid has important
roles to regulate numerous metabolic processes throughout the body.
Different types of thyroid disorders affect either its structure or function.
The thyroid gland is located below the Adam's apple wrapped around the
trachea (windpipe). A thin area of tissue in the gland's middle, known as
the isthmus, joins the two thyroid lobes on each side. The thyroid uses
iodine to produce vital hormones. Thyroxine, also known as T4, is the
primary hormone produced by the gland. After delivery via the bloodstream
to the body's tissues, a small portion of the T4 released from the gland is
converted to triiodothyronine (T3), which is the most active hormone.
The function of the thyroid gland is regulated by a feedback mechanism
involving the brain. When thyroid hormone levels are low, the hypothalamus
in the brain produces a hormone known as thyrotropin releasing hormone (TRH)
that causes the pituitary gland (located at the base of the brain) to release
thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). TSH stimulates the thyroid gland to
release more T4.
Since the thyroid gland is controlled by the pituitary gland and
hypothalamus, disorders of these tissues can also affect thyroid function and
cause thyroid problems.
Thyroid disease is a common problem that can cause symptoms because of over- or under-function of the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is an essential organ for producing thyroid hormones, which maintain are body metabolism. The thyroid gland is located in the front of the neck below the Adam's apple. Thyroid disease can also sometimes lead to enlargement of the thyroid gland in the neck, which can cause symptoms that are directly related to the increase in size of the organ (such as difficulty swallowing and discomfort in front of the neck).