What is the thyroid gland?
Your thyroid is a gland below the Adam’s apple in the front of your neck. Glands make and release hormones. Hormones stimulate other cells or tissues into action. The thyroid makes thyroid hormones.
Locating the Thyroid Gland
What are thyroid hormones?
Thyroid hormones control how fast your body’s chemical functions work (your metabolic rate). Almost every cell in your body needs thyroid hormones. Among many other things, thyroid hormones help control:
How fast you burn calories
How fast your heart beats
Your body temperature
There are 2 thyroid hormones:
Iodine is needed by your thyroid gland in order to make thyroid hormones. You need only a tiny amount of iodine. But if your thyroid gland doesn't get iodine, it won't make enough thyroid hormones (a condition called hypothyroidism Hypothyroidism Your thyroid is a gland below the Adam’s apple in your neck. Your thyroid releases thyroid hormones. The hormones control how fast your body’s chemical functions work (metabolic rate). Almost... read more ).
What controls thyroid hormones?
The pituitary gland Overview of the Pituitary Gland The pituitary gland is a pea-sized bit of tissue at the bottom of your brain. Glands are organs that make and release hormones into your blood. Hormones are chemicals that stimulate other cells... read more in your brain makes a hormone called TSH.
TSH tells your thyroid gland to make thyroid hormones
If your pituitary gland detects too little thyroid hormone in your blood, it puts out more TSH to stimulate your thyroid gland to make more thyroid hormones. If there's too much thyroid hormone in your blood, your pituitary puts out less TSH. Then your thyroid gland makes less thyroid hormone.
How do doctors test your thyroid gland?
The main tests of your thyroid gland are:
Blood tests for the thyroid measure the level of:
A high TSH level usually means you don't have enough thyroid hormones. And a very low TSH level usually means you have too much.
Imaging tests include:
Ultrasound, to tell whether your thyroid is enlarged
In a nuclear scan, doctors give you a tiny amount of radioactive iodine. Because your thyroid gland needs iodine, it collects the radioactive iodine. Doctors detect the radioactive iodine with a special camera. If your thyroid gland isn't working, it won't take up the iodine normally. The camera can also detect any small growths (nodules) on your thyroid. The scan doesn't use enough radiation to harm you.