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Thyroid, pituitary, parathyroid, adrenal, and pancreas are all endocrine glands. Endocrine glands are the glands that secrete inside the body. The thyroid works with the pituitary gland, which is located at the base of the brain, and the hypothalamus, which is located in the brain. Triiodothyronine is classified as T3. Thyroxine is classified at T4. The numbers 3 and 4 indicate the number of molecules in each hormone.  A healthy thyroid is a combination of 20% T3 and 80% T4. The conversion of the T3 and T4 hormones takes place in the thyroid and the hypothalamus.

1.      The hypothalamus (located in the brain) monitors the pace of the body’s function, stress, and other factors such as outside temperature. The hypothalamus releases thyrotropin-releasing hormone, classified as TRH.

2.      The TRH goes to the pituitary gland (located at the base of the brain) that releases thyroid-stimulating hormone,classified as TSH.

3.      The TSH goes to the thyroid (located in the throat) releases triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4).

4.      The T3 and T4 go into the blood stream carried by a plasma protein known as thyroxine-binding globulin,  classified as TBG.

You cannot live without the hormones produced by the thyroid. They regulate the body’s use of energy and control the body’s metabolism, which is how oxygen and calories are converted into energy. Despite its importance, most thyroids weigh only one ounce. Hyper and hypo thyroids are malfunctioning glands.

Hyperthyroidism is when a body under stress produces too much thyroid hormone causing the balancing system (listed above) to become out of balance creating increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, and burning more calories more quickly. Graves Disease is a hyperthyroid autoimmune disease. Autoimmune disease is when the body declares war upon itself. Graves is when the thyroid goes into uncontrolled overproduction. Anti-thyroid drugs or radioactive iodine therapy usually treat Graves. However, sometimes an
additional surgical removal of the thyroid is required.

Hypothyroidism is a condition where there is insufficient thyroid hormone in the body because of a malfunctioning or partially removed thyroid. The body moves more slowly with a lower heart rate, blood pressure,and body temperature. Fewer calories are burned more slowly. Hasimoto’s, Thyroiditis, and the treatment for Graves Disease can all create hypothyroidism.

 Risk factors for thyroid disease include

Family history  –  50% of all first degree relatives of people with thyroid disease have the antibodies marker that may develop in their lives

Women are 5 to 8 times more likely than men to get thyroid disease (1-8 women ages 35 –65; 1-5 women over 65)

X-rays to head and neck

Whiplash trauma to neck from car accident

Pituitary tumors or disease

Other autoimmune diseases

  • Chronic fatigue immune dysfunction syndrome
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Addison’s disease
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Scleroderma
  • Sjogren’s syndrome
  • Epstein Barr syndrome
  • Mononucleosis

Cite: M. Shomon (2000) LIVING WELL WITH HYPOTHYROIDISM: What Your Doctor Doesn’t Tell You That You Need to Know. Harper Resource, New York. 

Next post: Understanding the numbers of hypothyroidism


Dr. Sheila Embry is a govie, author, pracademician, sister, aunt, cousin, and friend who loves to read, write, think, and laugh. Many of her blog postings are summaries or excerpts of books that she read and wants to share to encourage others. An author with more than 25 years experience within the legislative and executive branches of the U. S. federal government holding 3 accredited degrees: Doctor of Management in Organizational Leadership, Master of Arts in Human Resources Development, and Baccalaureate of Business Administration, she believes in continuing learning both on and off the job. She has been recognized with multiple professional and writing awards for her peer-reviewed, publications. Click the bibliography page above for a listing of all the publications.

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