Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Thyroid gland

2-minute read

The thyroid gland makes thyroxine, a hormone that helps to control the activity of many of the systems in the body. Sometimes people can have problems if their thyroid gland is too active or not active enough.

What does the thyroid gland do?

The thyroid is a soft bow-shaped gland that sits in the front of the neck, just below the Adam’s apple. It produces two main hormones: thyroxine and triiodothyronine. These hormones, particularly thyroxine, regulate your body’s:

  • energy levels
  • temperature
  • metabolism, which is how your body converts food into energy
  • heart rate
  • muscle tone
illustration of the endocrine glands

What medical conditions are related to the thyroid gland?

Almost 1 in 6 Australians has a thyroid problem. The chance of having trouble with your thyroid becomes greater as you get older.

Sometimes people have problems with their thyroid being overactive and producing too much thyroxine (hyperthyroidism). This makes your body use energy too quickly. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:

  • weight loss
  • fatigue
  • nervousness
  • sensitivity to heat

In contrast, if your thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough hormones (hypothyroidism), your metabolism will reduce. This can cause weight gain or fatigue.

Your doctor will be able to diagnose these problems by performing a blood test to check for the levels of thyroxine and other related hormones in your body.

If you have a problem with your thyroid, many different treatments are available. They might involve medication and, in some cases, your doctor may recommend surgery.

More information

Learn more about the endocrine system and the different hormones released by the endocrine glands.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: November 2018

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

The thyroid gland

Information on the thyroid gland and its function in regulating your bodys metabolism.

Read more on WA Health website

Thyroid gland - myDr.com.au

The thyroid gland is situated in the front of the neck and makes a hormone (thyroxine) which affects the body`s metabolic rate.

Read more on myDr website

Thyroid gland and thyroid hormones - myDr.com.au

The thyroid gland produces thyroid hormones - the main ones being T3 (triiodothyronine) and T4 (thyroxine).

Read more on myDr website

Thyroid gland disorders - myDr.com.au

The average person knows little about the detrimental affects of thyroid disorders upon health and this can be very discouraging.

Read more on myDr website

Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid)

Hypothyroidism is a lifelong condition where your thyroid gland doesnt make enough thyroid hormones.

Read more on WA Health website

Endocrine Cancer | Cancer Council Victoria

The endocrine system is a network of hormone-producing glands such as the pituitary gland, the thyroid gland, the pancreas, the parathyroid glands and the adrenal glands.

Read more on Cancer Council Victoria website

Iodine - myDr.com.au

Iodine is important for your thyroid gland, and iodine deficiency can cause problems, especially in unborn and newborn babies. Find out how to ensure your iodine intake is adequate.

Read more on myDr website

Breastfeeding and thyroid disease | Australian Breastfeeding Association

The thyroid glandThe main function of the thyroid gland is to make thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) hormones. These hormones are important for the growth and normal function of the body, as well as for breastfeeding.

Read more on Australian Breastfeeding Association website

Goitre - Better Health Channel

Symptoms of a goitre can include enlargement of the throat, swallowing problems and breathing problems.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Graves' disease - Lab Tests Online AU

Site map of article content

Read more on Lab Tests Online website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo