The thyroid is a small gland on the front of the neck. It has two parts called lobes that roughly form a butterfly shape. It is found below the larynx, which is commonly known as the Adam's apple. Its primary purpose is to convert iodine into useful hormones that the body can use to control metabolism. The thyroid is under the control of the pituitary gland. That gland is located in the brain and is not much bigger than a peanut. When certain hormone levels dip too low, the pituitary gland stimulates the thyroid to produce more. Once the proper level is reached, it sends a shutoff signal to the thyroid to slow production.

When not enough hormone is produced a disease known as hypothyroidism sets in. Hypothyroidism is caused when the thyroid gland fails to secrete enough thyroid hormones into the blood stream. A blood test can tell doctors if this disease is present. When too much hormone is produced, it is known as hyperthyroidism. It can cause rapid weight loss, heart palpitations and sweating. A blood test is used to diagnose this condition.

Hypothyroidism is treated by the use of thyroid hormone pills. After a short period of time, most patients feel better. Many have to continue the medication for life. Hyperthyroidism is treated with beta blockers, a medicine also used as a treatment for high blood pressure. Some doctors also add radioactive iodine and anti-thyroid medications to their patients treatment.

The thyroid is a gland that is necessary to help the body regulate the metabolism. Hormones produced by it are released into the bloodstream, and are used by the body to control metabolism. If too much or too little are produced, it can lead to conditions known as hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. A doctor can diagnose these diseases based on physical exams and blood tests.

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