The thyroid (say: THYE-royd) is a gland,
which is an organ that makes special chemicals called hormones (say:
The thyroid is shaped like a little butterfly or bow tie and it sits under the
skin in the front of your neck. To find it, touch your throat in the Adam's
apple area with one finger and the top of your breastbone (the flat bone that
runs down the middle of your chest) with another finger. The thyroid is in that small
space in between your fingers. It bobs up and down when you swallow. See if you can
What Hormones Does the Thyroid Make?
The two major hormones
that the thyroid makes and releases into the bloodstream are called:
T4 or thyroxine (say: thy-ROKS-in)
T3 or triiodothyronine (say: try-eye-o-doe-THYE-row-neen)
All cells in the body need thyroid hormones to work properly. These hormones control
how fast the body uses up energy and are key factors in helping kids grow.
What Problems Can Happen?
The thyroid works kind of like the thermostat in a house. When the thyroid makes
the right amount of thyroid hormones, it keeps the temperature just right. But:
If the thyroid is too active (overactive) and makes too much T4 and T3, it's like
having a thermostat that's set too high, so the house gets overheated. This is called
hyperthyroidism (say: hi-per-THYE-roy-diz-em).
If it's not active enough (underactive), it's set too low and the house is too
cold. This is hypothyroidism (say: hi-po-THYE-roy-diz-em).
When a kid has one of these thyroid problems, doctors can treat it with medicine
or, sometimes, surgery.