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Thyroid Gland

Q: What is the thyroid gland?  Why is it important?

Dr. Donnica:
The thyroid gland is often referred to as "Gland Central".  It is the small, butterfly-shaped gland found just below the Adam's apple in the throat area of the neck.  It produces thyroid hormones, which are critical for the proper function of nearly every organ and tissue in the body, as well as the body's metabolism (energy production).   It works in close concert with hormonal "instructions" from the pituitary gland (the "Master Gland") and the hypothalamus, a regulatory center on the underside of the brain.  The hypothalamus first sends a hormone signal to the pituitary telling it to produce TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone).  TSH travels through the blood to act on the thyroid gland, telling it to increase production of thyroid hormones called T3 and T4.  These then travel through the blood to give different messages to the heart, liver, muscles, and other organs.  In addition, they signal the pituitary that the thyroid "got the message" and that no more TSH is needed at that time.  

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Created: 11/2/2000  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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