The thyroid gland or simply, the thyroid, is one of the largest endocrine glands in the body, and should not to be confused with the nearby parathyroid glands. The thyroid gland is found in the neck, inferior to (below) the thyroid cartilage (also known as the Adam's Apple). The thyroid controls how quickly the body uses energy, makes proteins, and controls how sensitive the body should be to other hormones.
The thyroid gland participates in these processes by producing thyroid hormones, the principal ones being triiodothyroninr (T3) and thyroxine (T4). These hormones regulate the rate of metabolism and affect the growth and rate of function of many other systems in the body. T3 and T4 are synthesized utilizing both iodine and tyrosine.
Iodine is an essential substance for thyroid hormones production. As with most substances, either too much or too little can cause problems. Inadequate iodine can lead to thyroid dysfunction and goiter. Studies have shown that excess iodine in take can exacerbate thyroid hormone excess disorders and even could cause an increased prevalence of autoimmune thyroid disease, resulting in permanent hypothyroidism.
The thyroid gland also produces calcitonin, which plays a role in calcium homeostasis.
The thyroid gland is controlled by the hypothalamus and pituitary (to be specific, the anterior pituitary). The thyroid gland gets its name from the Greek word for "shield", after the shape of the related thyroid cartilage. The most common problems of the thyroid gland consist of nodules, cancer and an over-active thyroid gland, referred to as "hyperthyroidism", and an under-active thyroid gland, referred to as "hypothyroidism".
The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shape organ and is composed of two cone-like lobes or wings, connected via the isthmus. The organ is situated on the anterior side of the neck, lying against and around the larynx and trachea. It is difficult to demarcate the gland's upper and lower border with vertebral levels because it moves position in relation to these during swallowing.
The thyroid gland is covered by a fibrous sheath. The gland is covered anteriorly with infrahyoid muscles and laterally with the sternocleidomastoid muscle. The thyroid gland's firm attachment to the underlying trachea is the reason behind its movement with swallowing. Between the two layers of the capsule and on the posterior side of the lobes, there are on each side two parathyroid glands.
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