The thyroid (pronounced: THY-royd), located in the front part of the lower neck, is shaped like a bow tie or butterfly and produces the thyroid hormones thyroxine (pronounced: thy-RAHK-sin) and triiodothyronine (pronounced: try-eye-oh-doe-THY-ruh-neen). These hormones control the rate at which cells burn fuels from food to produce energy.
The production and release of thyroid hormones is controlled by thyrotropin (pronounced: thy-ruh-TRO-pin), which is secreted by the pituitary gland. The more thyroid hormone there is in a person’s bloodstream, the faster chemical reactions occur in the body.
What of it goes wrong?
Hyperthyroidism. Hyperthyroidism is a condition in which the levels of thyroid hormones in the blood are very high. The condition is sometimes caused by Graves’ disease, an immune system problem that causes the thyroid gland to become very active. Doctors may treat hyperthyroidism with medications, surgery, or radiation treatments.
Hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the levels of thyroid hormones in the blood are very low. Thyroid hormone deficiency slows body processes and may lead to fatigue, a slow heart rate, dry skin, weight gain, and constipation. Kids and teens with this condition may also grow more slowly and reach puberty at a later age. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an immune system problem that often causes problems with the thyroid and blocks the production of thyroid hormone. Doctors often treat this problem with medication.