The functioning of the thyroid gland

Many people have vaguely heard of the thyroid gland, but have no idea what its function is. So what is a thyroid gland, what does it do and what abnormalities are there?

What is a thyroid gland?

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped organ located low in the neck. This organ produces hormones that regulate metabolism. Metabolism is the rate at which a person burns energy. You can therefore regard the thyroid gland as the thermometer of the human body. With a healthy functioning thyroid gland we do not notice anything about this organ, but if it functions abnormally the consequences can be very serious. The thyroid can produce both too many and too few hormones, which can cause our heart to work too fast and too slow, respectively.

Too fast thyroid gland

When the neck shows a thickening, this often indicates an overactive thyroid gland. The other way around is not always the case. A thyroid gland can produce too many hormones and still have a normal size, so that there is nothing noticeable in people’s appearance.
Complaints that occur with an overactive thyroid are a continuously high heart rate (both at rest and during exercise), palpitations, sweating, eating a lot and still losing weight, agitated and overactive despite fatigue and diarrhea.

Treatment for an overactive thyroid gland

The treatment methods for an overactive thyroid are antithyroid medications such as strumazol and PTU, a drink of radioactive iodine and thyroid surgery. When taking medication, the thyroid gland is inhibited as a whole, because the organ does not produce the same hormones all day long. Over time, in addition to thyroid inhibitors, thyroid hormones will also be taken to create a balance in an organ that we cannot live without. This coordination can take years.

You can also take a sip of radioactive iodine. With this treatment, part of the thyroid gland dies, creating an inhibitory effect. Because part of it dies, it is important to do this very carefully. In many cases, there will still be abnormal functioning of the thyroid gland after treatment, so that correct adjustment can be achieved through medication.

As the most drastic option, surgery is also possible. This is an alternative to taking a sip, but it almost only happens when there is a thickening of the thyroid gland. The reason for this is that breathing problems can arise from the thickening. In the event of surgery, a suitable solution can then be looked at more precisely.

Sluggish thyroid

This variant often occurs when the variant is treated too quickly. The symptoms are often the opposite of the other variant, but here too people experience many fatigue characteristics. The reason for this is that a slow metabolism causes a reduced appetite and due to the slow metabolism you still gain weight. For an underactive thyroid gland, only thyroid hormones (for example Thyrax) can be taken.