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What Does The Thyroid Gland Do

The Role Of Thyroid In Dogs: What Does The Thyroid Gland Do

What Does the Thyroid Gland Do For the Body?

    What function does the thyroid have in the dogs body?

    A while back, we talked about sick euthyroid syndrome a condition that complicates the diagnosis of hypothyroidism in dogs.

    Say your veterinarian determines that your dog truly has hypothyroidism. What the thyroid gland does, and how does its dysfunction affects the body?.

    Thyroid gland: Image Pets Adviser

    Thyroid Hormones Are Critically Important To Many Bodily Functions

    The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped organ located at the base of the neck in front of the trachea . Measuring about two inches wide and weighing 20 to 60 grams, the thyroid gland’s function is to make hormones that are vitally important to the bodys metabolism, growth, and development.

    In infants, thyroid hormones are crucial to the development of the brain and the skeletal system. A normal functioning thyroid gland is critical to the normal development of children, and to both the long-term and minute-to-minute well-being of adults.

    What Are Thyroid Nodules

    Thyroid nodules are growths in the thyroid gland, which is located in the front of the neck. The thyroid gland releases thyroid hormone, which regulates many of your bodys functions, including metabolism.

    Thyroid nodules are very common in adults, and more than 70% of Americans over the age of 70 will have at least one. Most nodules are noncancerous , but some can be cancerous. Thyroid nodules are less common in children and teens, but, if a child or a teen has a nodule, it is more likely to be malignant .

    • Colloid nodules are benign buildups of thyroid cells.
    • Follicular adenomas are also benign.
    • Thyroid cysts are balloon-like growths inside of your thyroid gland that are filled with fluid. They are almost never cancerous.
    • Thyroid cancers can appear similar to any of the other types of thyroid nodules. An ultrasound and, sometimes, a biopsy are important to determine if a nodule is malignant.

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    What Is The Thyroid

    The thyroid gland is a small organ thats located in the front of the neck, wrapped around the windpipe . Its shaped like a butterfly, smaller in the middle with two wide wings that extend around the side of your throat. The thyroid is a gland. You have glands throughout your body, where they create and release substances that help your body do a specific thing. Your thyroid makes hormones that help control many vital functions of your body.

    When your thyroid doesnt work properly, it can impact your entire body. If your body makes too much thyroid hormone, you can develop a condition called hyperthyroidism. If your body makes too little thyroid hormone, its called hypothyroidism. Both conditions are serious and need to be treated by your healthcare provider.

    How Is Hyperthyroidism Diagnosed

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    A full clinical and family history should be taken and thorough examination carried out by a doctor. Simple blood tests called thyroid function tests will then be carried out to confirm the diagnosis. These tests measure the amount of thyroid hormones and thyroid stimulating hormone in the bloodstream. In hyperthyroidism, the levels of triiodothyronine and/or thyroxine are usually raised, with undetectable levels of thyroid stimulating hormone. When the condition is in its early or mild stage, triiodothyronine and thyroxine can be in the normal range with suppressed thyroid stimulating hormone this is known as subclinical hyperthyroidism.

    Usually, the thyroid function tests together with the clinical examination are enough to diagnose the cause of hyperthyroidism. However, in some cases antibody testing may be needed to confirm the diagnosis, and occasionally, thyroid iodine uptake scans are requested to identify the cause . This is a test to measure how much iodine is taken up by the thyroid gland and gives an indication of thyroid function.

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    What Common Symptoms Can Happen With Thyroid Disease

    There are a variety of symptoms you could experience if you have a thyroid disease. Unfortunately, symptoms of a thyroid condition are often very similar to the signs of other medical conditions and stages of life. This can make it difficult to know if your symptoms are related to a thyroid issue or something else entirely.

    For the most part, the symptoms of thyroid disease can be divided into two groups those related to having too much thyroid hormone and those related to having too little thyroid hormone .

    Symptoms of an overactive thyroid can include:

    • Experiencing anxiety, irritability and nervousness.
    • Having trouble sleeping.
    • Experiencing an intolerance to cold temperatures.

    Why Are Hormones Important

    Hormones act as chemical messengers that are released into the blood stream to act on an organ in another part of the body. Although hormones reach all parts of the body, only target cells with compatible receptors are equipped to respond. Over 50 hormones have been identified in humans and other vertebrates.

    Hormones control or regulate many biological processes and are often produced in exceptionally low amounts within the body. Examples of such processes include:

    • blood sugar control
    • differentiation, growth, and function of reproductive organs and estradiol) and
    • body growth and energy production .

    Much like a lock and key, many hormones act by binding to receptors that are produced within cells. When a hormone binds to a receptor, the receptor carries out the hormones instructions, either by altering the cells existing proteins or turning on genes that will build a new protein. The hormone-receptor complex switches on or switches off specific biological processes in cells, tissues, and organs.

    Some examples of hormones include:

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    What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Goitre

    It is common to have small nodules within the thyroid gland, which cannot be felt, but may be picked up by chance when scans or examinations are conducted for other reasons. In these cases, there have usually been no symptoms to indicate the presence of goitre. Larger goitres simply present as a lump in the neck. Occasionally, a large goitre will press on nearby structures, for instance making it difficult to swallow or to breathe.

    What Problems Can Happen

    What does the thyroid gland do?

    The thyroid works kind of like the thermostat in a house. When the thyroid makes the right amount of thyroid hormones, it keeps the temperature just right. But:

    • If the thyroid is too active and makes too much T4 and T3, it’s like having a thermostat that’s set too high, so the house gets overheated. This is called hyperthyroidism .
    • If it’s not active enough , it’s set too low and the house is too cold. This is hypothyroidism .

    When a kid has one of these thyroid problems, doctors can treat it with medicine or, sometimes, surgery.

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    What Is The Function Of Thyroid Hormone

    The thyroid secretes several hormones, collectively called thyroid hormones. The main hormone is Thyroxine which is also known as T4. Thyroid hormones act throughout the body, influencing metabolism, growth development, and body temperature. During infancy and childhood, adequate thyroid hormone is crucial for brain development.

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    Overview Of The Thyroid Gland

    , MD, MS, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

    The thyroid is a small gland, measuring about 2 inches across, that lies just under the skin below the Adams apple in the neck. The two halves of the gland are connected in the middle , giving the thyroid gland the shape of a bow tie. Normally, the thyroid gland cannot be seen and can barely be felt. If it becomes enlarged, doctors can feel it easily, and a prominent bulge may appear below or to the sides of the Adams apple.

    The thyroid gland secretes thyroid hormones, which control the speed at which the bodys chemical functions proceed . Thyroid hormones influence the metabolic rate in two ways:

    Thyroid hormones affect many vital body functions, such as the heart rate, the rate at which calories are burned, skin maintenance, growth, heat production, fertility, and digestion.

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    What Is Thyroid Cancer

    Thyroid cancer happens when cancer cells form from the tissues of the thyroid gland.

    Most people with thyroid cancer have a thyroid nodule that does not cause any symptoms. If you do have symptoms, you may have swelling or a lump in your neck. The lump may cause problems swallowing. Some people get a hoarse voice.

    To tell if the lump or nodule is cancerous, your doctor will order certain tests. Most thyroid nodules are not cancerous.

    For more information about thyroid cancer, visit the National Cancer Institute’s thyroid cancer page.

    Graves Disease Diagnosis And Treatment

    7 Signs of an Underactive Thyroid

    A simple physical exam can reveal an enlarged thyroid, enlarged bulging eyes, and signs of increased metabolism, including rapid pulse and high blood pressure. Your doctor will also order blood tests to check for high levels of T4 and low levels of TSH, both of which are signs of Graves disease. A radioactive iodine uptake test might also be administered to measure how quickly your thyroid takes up iodine. A high uptake of iodine is consistent with Graves disease.

    Theres no treatment to stop the immune system from attacking the thyroid gland and causing it to overproduce hormones. However, the symptoms of Graves disease can be controlled in several ways, often with a combination of treatments:

    • beta-blockers to control rapid heart rate, anxiety, and sweating
    • antithyroid medications to prevent your thyroid from producing excessive amounts of hormone
    • radioactive iodine to destroy all or part of your thyroid
    • surgery to remove your thyroid gland, a permanent option if you cant tolerate antithyroid drugs or radioactive iodine

    Successful hyperthyroidism treatment usually results in hypothyroidism. Youll have to take hormone-replacement medication from that point forward. Graves disease can lead to heart problems and brittle bones if its left untreated.

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    What Are The Functions Of The Thyroid Hormones

    • Thyroid hormones help with brain development and function
    • It also helps with muscle control as well as bone health
    • Regulates the metabolic rate of the body
    • Also regulates the metabolism of fat, proteins and carbohydrates
    • Thyroid hormones also help with protein synthesis
    • Increases the bodys sensitivity to catecholamines
    • Essential for the development and differentiation of cells

    How Do The Parathyroids Work

    Normally parathyroid hormone release is triggered when the level of calcium in the blood is low. When the calcium level rises and is back to normal, the release of parathyroid hormone from the parathyroids is suppressed. However, parathyroid hormone and calcitonin work together to control calcium levels in the blood. The blood calcium level is the main stimulus for the release of these hormones, as the release of these hormones is not controlled by the pituitary gland.

    When the calcium level is high in the bloodstream, the thyroid gland releases calcitonin. Calcitonin slows down the activity of the osteoclasts found in bone. This decreases blood calcium levels. When calcium levels decrease, this stimulates the parathyroid gland to release parathyroid hormone. Parathyroid hormone encourages the normal process of bone breakdown . This process of bone breakdown releases calcium into the bloodstream. These actions raise calcium levels and counteract the effects of calcitonin. By having two hormones with opposing actions, the level of calcium in the blood can be carefully regulated.

    Parathyroid hormone also acts on the kidneys. Here it slows down the amount of calcium and magnesium filtered from the blood into the urine. Parathyroid hormone also stimulates the kidneys to make calcitriol, the active form of vitamin D. Calcitriol helps to increase the amount of calcium, magnesium and phosphorus absorbed from your guts into the blood.

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    The Role Of The Parathyroid Glands

    The ONLY purpose of the parathyroid glands is to regulate the calcium level in our bodies within a very narrow range so that the nervous and muscular systems can function properly. This is all they do. They measure the amount of calcium in the blood every minute of every day… and if the calcium levels go down a little bit, the parathyroid glands recognize it and make parathyroid hormone which goes to the bones and takes some calcium out and puts it into the blood. When the calcium in the blood is high enough, then the parathyroids shut down and stop making PTH.

    The single major disease of parathyroid glands is over-activity of one or more of the parathyroids which make too much parathyroid hormone causing a potentially serious calcium imbalance . This is called hyperparathyroidism and this is the disease that this entire web site is about.

    Action Of Thyroid Hormones

    Thyroid gland – what does it do?

    Thyroid hormones act on many different cellular processes however, no single reaction or metabolic event can be equated with their action. Although both T4 and T3 have intrinsic metabolic activity, T3 is 35 times more potent in binding to the nuclear receptors and similarly more potent in stimulating oxygen consumption.

    Effects of thyroid hormones generally are divided into two categories: those that manifest within minutes to hours after hormone receptor binding and do not require protein synthesis, and those that manifest later and require synthesis of new proteins. Approximately half the increase in oxygen consumption produced by thyroid hormones is related to activation of the plasma membranebound Na+/K+ ATPase thyroid hormones also stimulate mitochondrial oxygen consumption. These changes are linked directly to the calorigenic effect of thyroid hormones. More chronic effects invariably are related to the cellular actions that require interaction with nuclear T3 receptors, followed by an increase in protein synthesis crucial to physiologic processes such as growth, differentiation, proliferation, and maturation.

    Thyroid hormones, in physiologic quantities, are anabolic. In conjunction with growth hormone and insulin, protein synthesis is stimulated and nitrogen excretion is reduced. However, in excess , they can be catabolic, with increased gluconeogenesis, protein breakdown, and nitrogen wasting.

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    Hashimotos Diagnosis And Treatment

    Testing the level of TSH is often the first step when screening for any type of thyroid disorder. Your doctor might order a blood test to check for increased levels of TSH as well as low levels of thyroid hormone if youre experiencing some of the above symptoms. Hashimotos thyroiditis is an autoimmune disorder, so the blood test would also show abnormal antibodies that might be attacking the thyroid.

    Theres no known cure for Hashimotos thyroiditis. Hormone-replacing medication is often used to raise thyroid hormone levels or lower TSH levels. It can also help relieve the symptoms of the disease. Surgery might be necessary to remove part or all of the thyroid gland in rare advanced cases of Hashimotos. The disease is usually detected at an early stage and remains stable for years because it progresses slowly.

    Who Tells The Thyroid To Produce And Release Hormones

    The signal comes from a small gland located at the bottom of our brain called the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland produces and sends out a hormone called thyroid-stimulating hormone . TSH then tells the thyroid gland how much hormones to produce and secrete. TSH levels in your blood are rising and falling depending on your bodys needs to produce more or less thyroid hormones.

    There is a third actor involved in this communication. The pituitary gland responds either directly to the thyroid hormones in the blood, but it also responds to signals from the hypothalamus, which sits above the pituitary gland as part of your brain. The hypothalamus releases its own hormone thyrotropin-releasing hormone . TRH in turn stimulates the release of TSH in the pituitary, which then signals to the thyroid gland.

    This whole network is also referred to as the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis and it adapts to metabolic changes and your bodys needs.

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    How Long Does It Take To Recover From Thyroid Surgery

    It will take your body a few weeks to recover after your thyroid is surgically removed . During this time you should avoid a few things, including:

    • Submerging your incision under water.
    • Lifting an object thats heavier than 15 pounds.
    • Doing more than light exercise.

    This generally lasts for about two weeks. After that, you can return to your normal activities.

    What Do My Parathyroid Glands Do

    Thyroid Glands

    The parathyroid glands are important in tightly controlling calcium levels in the bloodstream. Because of this, calcium levels are generally very stable. This is important to ensure the nervous system and the bodys muscles can work properly, and also that bones remain strong.

    The main target organs where parathyroid hormone exerts its effects are the bones and the kidneys. When calcium levels are low, parathyroid hormone is released by the parathyroid glands into the blood and causes the bones to release calcium and increase levels in the bloodstream. It also causes the kidneys to stop calcium being lost in urine as well as stimulating the kidneys to increase vitamin Dmetabolism .

    If someone does not take in enough calcium through their diet or does not have enough vitamin D, circulating calcium levels fall and the parathyroid glands produce more parathyroid hormone. This brings calcium levels in the bloodstream back up to normal.

    Another method that parathyroid hormone uses to increase calcium levels in the bloodstream is activation of vitamin D. This occurs in the kidney too the activated vitamin D then increases calcium absorption from the gut.

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    Hashimoto’s Disease And Hypothyroidism

    The most common cause of hypothyroidism is Hashimoto’s disease. It’s an autoimmune disorder, meaning that the body’s own immune system attacks the thyroid and causes inflammation. This prevents the thyroid from making enough hormones, causing hypothyroidism.

    Hashimoto’s disease often runs in families, and it affects women more than men. People with other autoimmune diseases are also more likely to get Hashimoto’s disease.


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