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What are thyroid disorders?

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.

Picture of the thyroid gland
Picture of the thyroid gland

Return to Thyroid Disorders

See what others are saying

Comment from: Annie, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: August 23

I realized that I was not alright when my whole body itched without rashes. My son told me that it can be due to kidney, liver or thyroid problem. I went to a doctor and got my blood test done. I was told that it is hyperthyroidism and high liver enzyme. The symptoms I have are sore throat, itch, tiredness, sleeplessness, my fingers tremble, neck aches, and I have cold sweat and nausea. I am given medicine for finger trembling and to handle the hyperthyroidism. I need to do a few blood tests and scanning to confirm that my liver is not affected due to virus attack.

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Comment from: Deena, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: January 20

I have been diagnosed with Graves' disease. Two years ago I started to have vision problems due to Graves'. I have had two surgeries on my left eye but still continue to have the double vision, mostly when trying to read. Since my last surgery a year ago the double vision has not subsided and at my last visit to the specialist (last week) she seems to think that it may be starting up in the right eye now. I now have an appointment for more testing on the right eye. Maybe if we do it now, it can be controlled with the steroid injections. Just like in the left eye, there are no guarantees. I wonder if anyone has the same problem with their vision, the bulging eyes, and the depression. I sure could use a friend.

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Comment from: Mocha, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: December 24

I have had hypothyroid since I was 14 and now 34 years old. My life hasn't been easy physically or mentally. At age 18 somehow I had hyperthyroid and when I was pregnant with my son I was thyroid free but told it would return which it did. I get migraines, suffer from brittle hair and dry skin, horrible weight gain, joint pains, can't focus and always fatigued. I just take my medication and take it a day at a time. As I get older it gets worse. It may just be a disorder, but it truly can affect you if not managed properly. So I've had hypothyroid for 20 years. Although it's an everyday struggle energy-wise to get through the day, I am thankful I can still do things.

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