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What is a thyroid gland?

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Updated: 1/14/2003 2:30 pm
The thyroid gland is a small gland in your neck that fits around the esophagus (EE-SOFF-AH-GUS) and windpipe. It produces several hormones that are essential for controlling your body's metabolism. If the thyroid is too active, an abundance of these hormones can produce sweating, palpitations, insomnia, hyperactivity, tremors, and anxiety. Underactivity is an equally severe problem, resulting in a variety of symptoms including dry, scaly skin, forgetfulness, a lower pulse rate and slower reflexes. Your primary care physician can refer you to an ear, nose and throat specialist, who can perform certain tests to measure the amount of hormones in the blood which may indicate a malfunctioning thyroid. Once the diagnosis is made, the doctor can prescribe medications which will correct the conditions. Only in rare cases will surgery be necessary. For more information on the thyroid gland and its function, consult your doctor.

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