Thyroid function

The thyroid gland sits in the front of the neck, at the level of your voice box, and controls the rate of at which the body's cells work (the metabolic rate) by the production of thyroxine.

If the gland is overactive the rate of metabolism is increased, and this results in some or all of these symptoms:

  • weight loss in spite of increased appetite
  • rapid heart rate
  • a fine tremor
  • increased nervousness and emotional instability
  • intolerance of heat, and excessive sweating
  • staring, bulging eyes
  • enlargement of the thyroid gland
  • disturbance of your periods usually less frequent
If the gland is underactive you might notice some or all of the following:
  • weight gain
  • feeling cold
  • a change in your voice
  • dry skin
  • hair loss
  • feeling slowed down
  • constipation
  • disturbance of your periods-usually heavier
  • enlargement of the thyroid gland
Treatment of an overactive gland is by medication to inhibit the excess production of thyroid hormone. Surgery or radioactive iodine may be necessary alternatives.

Treatment of an underactive gland is by the taking of thyroxine.

Further information

This article published on
01 September 2005

Next review date 10/1/2013



Areaof the body

Not applicable

Male or female?


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