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Health Information For Parents
The thyroid is a small gland below the skin and muscles at the front of the neck, at the spot where a bow tie would rest. It’s brownish red, with left and right halves (called lobes) that look like a butterfly’s wings. It usually weighs less than an ounce.
Though it’s small, the thyroid does many important jobs, especially for teens. For instance, it:
Thyroid hormones are released from the gland and travel through the bloodstream to the body’s cells. They help control the growth and the structure of bones, sexual development (puberty), and many other body functions.
By helping cells convert oxygen and sugar and other body fuels into the energy they need to work properly, these hormones are important in helping a child’s body mature as it should.
Thyroid hormones also directly affect how most organs function. So a thyroid that isn’t working as it should can cause problems in many other parts of the body.
Thyroid disease happenss when the thyroid gland doesn’t supply the proper amount of hormones needed by the body. This can cause:
If the thyroid is overactive, it releases too much thyroid hormone into the bloodstream. This is called hyperthyroidism. The body use up energy more quickly than it should, and chemical activity (like metabolism) in the cells speeds up. Graves’ disease, an
disease, is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism.
Read more about hyperthyroidism and Graves’ disease.
If the thyroid is underactive, it makes too little thyroid hormone, causing hypothyroidism. The body uses up energy more slowly, and chemical activity (metabolism) in the cells slows down. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an autoimmune disease that causes most cases of hypothyroidism in kids and teens.
Read more about hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
Both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can make the thyroid larger than normal. An enlarged thyroid gland is a lump that can be felt under the skin at the front of the neck. When it is large enough to see easily, it’s called a goiter. A thyroid nodule is a lump or enlarged area in the thyroid gland.
Read more about goiters and thyroid nodules.
Thyroid cancer is uncommon in children. When it does happen, the results of treatment are usually excellent.
Read more about thyroid cancer.
Hyperthyroidism happens when the thyroid gland sends too much thyroid hormone into the blood. The most common cause of hyperthyroidism is Graves’ disease.
An underactive thyroid makes too little thyroid hormone, causing hypothyroidism. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, which causes most cases of hypothyroidism in kids and teens, is a condition in which the immune system attacks the thyroid.
An enlarged thyroid gland is a lump that can be felt under the skin at the front of the neck. When it’s big enough to see easily, it’s called a goiter. A thyroid nodule is a lump or enlarged area in the thyroid gland.
Thyroid blood tests check thyroid function and can help doctors diagnose thyroid disorders such as hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.
Some babies are born with a thyroid gland that didn’t develop correctly or doesn’t work as it should. This is called congenital hypothyroidism.
The thyroid peroxidase antibodies test is primarily used to help diagnose and monitor autoimmune conditions involving the thyroid gland, including Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and Graves disease.
Doctors may order the T4 blood test if symptoms suggest any kind of thyroid disorder.
The T3 total test is part of an evaluation of thyroid function. It’s particularly useful in diagnosing hyperthyroidism, which can cause symptoms such as a fast heart rate, weight loss, trembling and sweating.
The thyroglobulin antibodies test is used to help diagnose autoimmune conditions involving the thyroid gland, or when thyroid disorders are suspected.
Doctors may order TSH blood tests to diagnose and monitor treatment of a thyroid disorder or evaluate pituitary gland functioning.
Doctors may order the T3 resin uptake when a child’s symptoms or previous blood tests seem to suggest thyroid dysfunction.
The glands of the endocrine system and the hormones they release affect almost every cell, organ, and function of our bodies.
A neck CAT scan can detect signs of disease in the throat and surrounding areas. Doctors may order one to detect abscesses, birth defects, cysts, or tumors.
The endocrine system influences almost every cell, organ, and function of our bodies. It is instrumental in regulating mood, growth and development, metabolism, and sexual function, among other things.
Your body gets the energy it needs from food through a process called metabolism. Get all the facts on metabolism in this article.
Do you know just how important the thyroid is? It helps you grow and affects your energy level.
In most cases, teens who are small are just physically maturing a bit more slowly than their friends. Occasionally, though, there’s a medical reason why some kids and teens stop growing. Find out about growth problems and how doctors can help.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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