National Institutes of Health
- The primary NIH organization for research on Thyroid Diseases is the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
Your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in your neck, just above your collarbone. It is one of your endocrine glands, which make hormones. Thyroid hormones control the rate of many activities in your body. These include how fast you burn calories and how fast your heart beats. All of these activities are your body's metabolism.
If your thyroid gland is not active enough, it is called hypothyroidism. It can make you gain weight, feel fatigued, and have difficulty dealing with cold temperatures.
If your thyroid is too active, it makes more thyroid hormones than your body needs. That condition is called hyperthyroidism. Too much thyroid hormone can make you lose weight, speed up your heart rate, and make you very sensitive to heat.
There are many causes for both conditions. Treatment involves trying to reset your body's metabolism to a normal rate.
The thyroid gland can also develop cancer.
Dept. of Health and Human Services Office on Women's Health
References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)