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Thyroid Stimulating Hormone

Thyroid Stimulating Hormone, which is also known as TSH and as thyrotropin, is the hormone that regulates the activity of the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland itself produces hormones, but in order to ensure that the thyroid hormones are at the correct level in the body it is necessary to regulate the rate at which they are produced. This is done hormonally.

Thyroid Stimulating Hormone is produced by the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland produces and releases Thyroid Stimulating Hormone when the levels of thyroid hormones in the blood are too low. The Thyroid Stimulating Hormone activates the thyroid gland, making it work harder. This increase in the levels of the thyroid hormones is detected and the pituitary gland responds by stopping the production of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone. The levels of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone drop and the thyroid gland is no longer stimulated to work so hard. This slows the production of the thyroid hormones, preventing their levels from rising too high. Thyroid Stimulating Hormone therefore ensures that the levels of the thyroid hormones in the body stay within the normal range.

The levels of thyroid hormones in the blood are monitored by the hypothalamus. It is the hypothalamus that regulates the production of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone by the pituitary gland. When the levels of thyroid hormones detected by the hypothalamus are too low, it releases a hormone called thyrotropin-releasing hormone or TRH. Thyrotropin releasing hormones will cause the pituitary gland to increase the production of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone. As the levels of thyroid hormones are raised due to the activity of this Thyroid Stimulating Factor, the hypothalamus detects the change. It then stops producing thyrotropin-releasing hormone and starts producing somatostatin instead. The somatostatin produced by the hypothalamus stops the production of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone by the pituitary gland.

If there is a problem with the pituitary gland, and it is producing too much or to little Thyroid Stimulating Hormone, or if the thyroid gland is not responding appropriately to the Thyroid Stimulating Hormone, then the amount of thyroid hormones that is being produced may not be normal. If the levels of thyroid hormones are too high, this is known as hyperthyroidism. If the levels are too low then the disorder is known as hypothyroidism.

Blood tests to measure the levels of thyroid hormones and Thyroid Stimulating Hormone are used in the diagnosis of both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. If the levels of the thyroid hormones and TSH are high, it indicates hyperthyroidism caused by a pituitary gland tumor or resistance of the thyroid gland to TSH. If the levels of thyroid hormones are high, but the level of TSH is low, it indicates hyperthyroidism caused by Graves’ disease, which affects the thyroid gland. If the levels of thyroid hormones and TSH are both low it indicates hypothyroidism due to a problem with the pituitary gland. If the levels of thyroid hormones are low, but TSH is high, it indicates hypothyroidism due to a problem with the thyroid gland, such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.


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