Hormonal/Endocrine Disorders

Information about the Thyroid

This explains some of the conditions associated with the thyroid gland. As with any healthcare issue, you should talk to your healthcare provider about your particular situation.

What is the thyroid, and why is it important?

The thyroid is an endocrine gland that plays a key role in regulating growth, development, and normal function of the body. It is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the front of your neck. The thyroid can affect your heart rate, your emotional state, your feelings of tiredness and hunger, and the condition of your skin and hair. In fact, your thyroid influences most cells in your body.

Your thyroid controls your body’s functions by making several hormones, including thyroxine (T4), which is converted to triiodothyronine (T3). If you do not get enough iodine in your diet, your thyroid cannot produce enough T3 and T4. The amounts of T3 and T4 released into the bloodstream:

  • Regulate the body’s ability to turn food into energy
  • Affect the rates of tissue growth
  • Affect the function of organ systems through the body

The amount of thyroid hormones released by the thyroid gland is monitored and controlled by the pituitary gland which releases thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) when the thyroid hormones are too low. When your thyroid is functioning normally, TSH levels are relatively low.

Thyroid Function

With thyroid disease, thyroid hormones are either over-produced or under-produced. Diseases of the thyroid gland include:

  • Hypothyroidism– Not enough thyroid hormone is produced
  • Hashimoto’s disease– An autoimmune disease that causes the thyroid to produce too little thyroid hormone, causing hypothyroidism
  • Hyperthyroidism– Too much thyroid hormone is produced
  • Grave’s disease– An autoimmune disease that causes the thyroid to produce too much thyroid hormone, causing hyperthyroidism
  • Goiter– Enlargement of the thyroid gland
  • Thyroid nodules– Growth of thyroid tissue causing circular or oval-shaped lumps in the thyroid gland
  • Thyroid cancer– Growth of the thyroid gland, either goiter or thyroid nodules, that become cancerous

Thyroid Disease Q & A

What are the types of thyroid disease?

The thyroid is a small gland at the base of your neck that produces thyroid hormones. Thyroid hormones control a number of functions throughout your body, like how fast your heart beats and how quickly you burn calories. 

There are different types of thyroid disease including:


Often referred to as an underactive thyroid, hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormones. Hypothyroidism slows down your bodily functions and can cause you to feel sluggish, weak, and fatigued. 

The most common cause of hypothyroidism is Hashimoto's disease, an autoimmune disease that causes your immune system to attack and damage your thyroid gland. 


A hyperactive thyroid gland produces an excess of thyroid hormone. Too much thyroid hormone speeds up your bodily functions, including your heart rate and metabolism. Hyperthyroidism can increase your risk of developing serious conditions like stroke or congestive heart failure. 

The most common cause of hyperthyroidism is Graves' disease, an autoimmune disorder that causes your thyroid to produce too much thyroid hormone. 

Additional types of thyroid problems include thyroid nodules, thyroid cancer, and goiter, which is an enlargement of the thyroid gland. 

If you notice symptoms of thyroid disease, it’s important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Untreated thyroid disease can lead to serious problems like heart disease, infertility, and osteoporosis.

What are the symptoms of thyroid disease?

Thyroid disease can cause your body to produce too little or too much thyroid hormone.

If you have hypothyroidism, your symptoms may include:

  • Unintended weight gain
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle weakness
  • Constipation
  • Slow heart rate

If you have hyperthyroidism, your symptoms may include:

  • Unintended weight loss
  • Increased appetite
  • Increased anxiety
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Bulging or irritated eyes
  • Insomnia
  • Diarrhea

No matter which kind of thyroid disease you have, the hormone specialists at Princeton Endocrinology Associates can develop the right treatment plan for your condition.

What treatments are available for thyroid disease?

Before you begin treatment, your doctor performs a thorough evaluation including a physical exam, blood tests, and in-office ultrasound. After your diagnosis, you and your doctor work together to develop your personalized treatment plan. 

Your treatment depends on which type of thyroid disease you have. If you have hypothyroidism, your specialist prescribes thyroid hormone medication.

If you have hyperthyroidism, your treatment plan may include:

  • Anti-thyroid medications
  • Beta-blockers
  • Radioactive iodine
  • Surgery to remove your thyroid gland

To find out which treatment is right for your thyroid disease, call to make an appointment by phone or book online today.

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