The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland at the base of the neck; it produces hormones that regulate several bodily functions. Thyroid hormones are essential for metabolism, as well as for overall growth and development. An overactive thyroid causes hyperthyroidism, while an underactive thyroid leads to hypothyroidism. Both of these conditions can have a serious impact on a person's health and well-being.
The metabolic rate is closely associated with the thyroid. This means an unexplained shift in body weight may signify thyroid trouble. Weight gain with no change in appetite, exercise regime, or stress level is symptomatic of low thyroid hormone production. Excess thyroid production may also provoke weight loss for no apparent reason. The former condition, hypothyroidism, is far more common, especially in women.
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