The thyroid gland is the dynamo of the body, as it participates in almost all vital processes in the body, which may cause any malfunction in it to cause a significant negative impact on health, whether the malfunction is a deficiency in the activity of the gland or an overactivity.

The thyroid gland is located in the neck in front of the trachea and contains special cells called cystic cells whose function is to secrete gland hormones.

Some may be ignorant of the facts related to it and its importance.

In this report, Readers Digest, in its Australian edition, presents the most important facts to know about the gland, which directly or indirectly controls almost every function in the body.

What does the thyroid gland do?

The thyroid gland produces hormones known as thyroxine and triiodothyronine (T3), which are used by all cells of the body.

"These hormones are essential to life," says Dr. Terry Davis. "When you're overactive or underactive, things can go seriously wrong."

For example, an overactive thyroid hormone can affect the heart's movement, causing it to beat faster, feel restless, and sometimes even cause weight gain.

In the words of Dr. Davis, “Because the brain is so dependent on the thyroid gland, a severe deficiency of the hormones produced by the thyroid gland would also cause depression.”

Thyroid problems can affect your overall health

Unfortunately, there are many ways in which this gland can be eliminated, and there are a number of conditions that fall into the category of thyroid disease, perhaps the most important of which are hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid), hyperthyroidism, and Hashimoto's thyroiditis (disease of the thyroid gland). An autoimmune disease that attacks the thyroid gland, causing its insufficiency), and Graves' disease (an autoimmune disease that causes hyperthyroidism).

Dr. Davis adds that "thyroid disease can progress to cancer of that gland."

It is easy to do a thyroid examination

A blood test can reveal problems with the thyroid gland.

"Doing a sensitive blood test called (thyrotropin) - thyroid-stimulating hormone - can easily diagnose abnormal thyroid function," says Dr. Davis.

He pointed out that "thyrotropin is the hormone that the brain and pituitary gland send to the thyroid gland to stimulate it to work. When the thyroid gland fails to respond, the secretion of thyrotropin increases. And when the thyroid gland suffers from hyperactivity, the brain does not need to send stimuli, so the secretion of the hormone low thyrotropin.

If your thyrotropin test results are abnormal, you'll need to have at least one other blood test, such as a thyroxine and triiodothyronine test or a thyroid antibody test, to help find out what's causing the problem.

Symptoms of hyperthyroidism vary

When the thyroid gland produces too much of its hormone, it can cause it to become overactive.

Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include anxiety, nervousness, irritability, increased sweating, difficulty sleeping, flaky skin, flaking, hair loss, and muscle weakness.

Hypothyroidism affects energy levels

On the other hand, hypothyroidism occurs when you are underactive.

Symptoms of this condition include feeling tired and drowsy, bloating and constipation, feeling cold all the time and changes in the level of hair and nails, as well as intellectual lethargy, and a slow heart rate.

Your quality of life can be affected

Without proper treatment, Dr. Christian Nasr says, the most severe forms of hypo or hyperthyroidism can be life-threatening.

But even milder problems can interfere with your daily life.

He continues, "People with hypothyroidism who remain untreated may lack energy and mental alertness."

Dr. Nasr states that this condition may cause a significant problem at work in particular, not to mention that women with hypo or hyperthyroidism can suffer from infertility.

Balance.. is the key

If you are diagnosed with hypothyroidism, your doctor will likely prescribe medication to promote hormonal balance.

"No other treatment is necessary to treat hypothyroidism," says Dr. Davis, adding that "making changes in diet will not make a difference."

"Despite all the hype, there are some limited studies that support the so-called thyroid diet," says Dr. Davis.

One study published in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition and Nutrition notes that micronutrients, such as iodine, selenium and zinc, play an important role in thyroid health.

But the researchers concluded that the best advice for patients is to eat a healthy, balanced diet and meet daily iodine requirements.

Selenium is essential for thyroid function

The mineral selenium is key to that healthy balance, because the thyroid gland is the organ with the highest amount of selenium per gram of tissue.

These micronutrients help protect the body from disease and support the metabolism of thyroid hormones.

Foods rich in selenium include Brazil nuts, yellowfin tuna, halibut, sardines, pork, canned shrimp, turkey and liver.

Thyroid cancer approaches are changing

Thyroid cancer diagnoses have tripled in the past three decades, although this dramatic rise in the number of cases may be related to the increased use of thyroid ultrasound.

One study found that new approaches were needed to avoid overtreating slow-growing tumors that would otherwise remain asymptomatic.

Doctors are currently trying less intensive treatments, which means that not every patient will be told they need to remove the entire gland.

Thyroid cancer diagnoses are on the rise

According to the Australian Thyroid Foundation, thyroid cancer rates have increased and treatment is often successful (the cure rate can be as high as 95%).

Papillary thyroid cancer is the most common type, accounting for approximately 70% of all cases, and develops from follicular cells in the thyroid gland with a tumor that forms in one lobe of the gland.

Screening for thyroid nodules is not always recommended

We are fortunate enough to live in a time where many different imaging modalities, such as computed tomography and ultrasound, are common.

But therein lies the danger of overdiagnosis, because doctors find more small nodules (solid or fluid-laden nodules that originate in the thyroid gland and do not cause symptoms) as they develop.