How Your Thyroid Affects Your Health - PIH Health

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Published on January 24, 2020

How Your Thyroid Affects Your Health

Graphic of thyroid locationGraphic of thyroid locationDid you know that your thyroid gland affects your metabolism, mood, digestion and more? The thyroid is located in the front of the neck. It sits below the voice box (larynx) and on top of the trachea (windpipe). The small, two-inch gland consists of 2 lobes, 1 on each side of the windpipe, connected by a small bridge of thyroid tissue called the isthmus. 

Your thyroid is so important; it affects how many body functions are regulated in your body. 

  • Metabolic rate – Thyroid hormones help burn fat helping to provide energy for your body. This is an important role in regulating the body's metabolism. 
  • Heart function – The hormones from your thyroid gland help your heart rate function at a regular heart beat rate and help keep your cholesterol in check. A slow heart rate could mean hypothyroidism.
  • Digestive function – Thyroid hormones help to move food through your stomach and intestines. It helps to keep digestive symptoms like heartburn, constipation and bloating from becoming a frequent problem.
  • Muscle control – For muscles and joints, if your thyroid gland isn’t producing enough hormone, it can lead to muscle aches or tenderness and stiffness in many joints.
  • Brain – If your thyroid gland is producing too little hormone, it can affect your memory span and the ability to concentrate. 
  • Mood – Too much (hyperthyroidism) or too little (hypothyroidism) of the thyroid hormone can affect your mood. You may have mood swings, a short temper or have unsettling emotions.
  • Bones – The thyroid hormone affects the rate of bone replacement in your body. If your thyroid levels are too high, you could be at risk for osteoporosis.

The thyroid plays an important role in regulating the body's metabolism. Endocrine Specialist with PIH Health Physicians, Ghasak Mahmood MD tell us “The hormones it secretes help govern many functions of the body like how the body produces heat, consumes oxygen and uses energy. Virtually every tissue in the body is affected or regulated by thyroid hormone. It regulates the brain and nerve development and function, skin, hair, eyes, heart, and intestine function. The thyroid hormones enter into tissues and regulate how those tissues produce or don't produce certain proteins.” 

She also tells us, “The thyroid function is controlled by the pituitary, which sits at the base of the brain. The pituitary is controlled by a region in the brain called the hypothalamus. Thyroid disorders usually occur from the thyroid producing either too much or too little hormone. An annual wellness check with your doctor is a good idea to ensure hormones are at ideal levels. This can be done by a simple blood test.” 

If you need to see an endocrine specialist or find a primary care doctor, visit PIHHealth.org/Find-A-Doctor.

The information in Healthy Living Online is for educational purposes only.  It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.  The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation, or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.

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