HEALTH [Understanding Your Body] Thyroid 2024.06.18

Watch: [Understanding Your Body] Thyroid

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We often use expressions such as

‘having a thyroid’ or ‘suffering from the thyroid.’


However, the thyroid is not the name of an illness, like a cold.

Rather, it is one of the organs located in our neck.


The name ‘thyroid’ is derived from the Greek word

for ‘shield’ due to its shield-like shape.


Today, we are going to learn about the thyroid gland,

the lubricant that keeps all the organs in our body

perform their functions properly.


The thyroid gland, located in front of the trachea in our neck,

is butterfly-shaped, about 5 cm in both width and height,

and weighs between 12 to 20 grams.


If it is of normal size, it is neither visible nor palpable externally.


Looking at the back of the thyroid, you will find four small dot-like tissues.


These are called parathyroid glands, responsible for regulating calcium in the body.


The thyroid gland is composed of multiple lobules, each consisting of 20 to 40 follicles.


This is where various thyroid hormones are produced and stored.


The most representative hormone among them is thyroxine,

which is produced using iodine components in the blood.


Thyroxine hormone plays a crucial role in promoting metabolism,

maintaining body temperature and regulating heart rate,

cell growth, digestion, and other functions.


The function of the thyroid gland is regulated by an organ

within the brain called the pituitary gland.


The pituitary gland secretes thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH),

which increases when the concentration of thyroid hormones in the bloodstream is low.


While the pituitary gland finely regulates the secretion of thyroid hormones,

any dysfunction, for whatever reason, can disrupt the balance.


Excessive thyroid hormone secretion causes symptoms

such as rapid heart rate, weight loss, and heat intolerance,

which is referred to as hyperthyroidism.


Conversely, deficiency in thyroid hormone secretion

results in a slower heart rate, weight gain, and cold intolerance,

which is referred to as hypothyroidism.


In addition to thyroid dysfunction,

the thyroid gland itself enlarge due to inflammation,

which can also lead to abnormalities in hormone secretion.


Also, small nodules can develop.

A prominent example among these is thyroid cancer.


Although thyroid cancer is known for its slow progression

and is considered a relatively benign,

since prognosis varies depending on the origin cells of the cancer,

it is not advisable to dismiss thyroid cancer as inherently mild.


Thyroid diseases are typically reported

to have a 4 to 5 times higher incidence rate in women than in men,

and are frequently observed in individuals in their 20s and 30s.


However, recently, thyroid diseases have been increasingly observed

in individuals in their 40s and 50s.


Immune abnormalities, mental or physical stress, genetic factors,

and others are suspected as potential causes,

but the exact factors remain unknown.


Therefore, an accurate understanding of the thyroid is a must.


If you experience symptoms

such as swelling in the neck, a feeling of lumpiness when swallowing,

difficulty regulating body temperature, or persistent fatigue without apparent cause,

it is advisable to visit a hospital for a simple blood test and specialist consultation.