Goiter Causes, Symptoms And Treatments

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For early prevention and treatment, you should check for any symptoms or signs of goiter among yourself or your loved ones.

In this article:

  1. What Is Goiter?
  2. What Are the Symptoms of Goiter?
  3. What Are the Causes of Goiter?
  4. Where Is Goiter Most Common?
  5. Who Is at Risk to Have Goiter?
  6. Why Is Goiter More Common Among Females Than Males?
  7. How Is Goiter Diagnosed?
  8. What Are the Treatment Options for Goiter?
  9. When Should Goiter Be Removed?
  10. What Are the Natural Remedies for Goiter?
  11. Do Goiters Go Away on Their Own?

All You Need to Know About Goiter and Enlarged Thyroids

 

What Is Goiter?

Goiter is known to be one of the most common thyroid diseases and may sometimes occur alongside other thyroid conditions such as hypo—or hyperthyroidism. It is primarily characterized by an enlarged thyroid, which may affect breathing, swallowing, and coughing reflex if left unmanaged.

What Are the Symptoms of Goiter?

Apart from enlargement in the neck area, goiter may also manifest the following:

  • Neck swelling that is tender when touched (Can be seen at the base of the neck or through lumps on the side of the neck)
  • Voice hoarseness
  • Tightness in throat
  • Coughing
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Pressure on the esophagus area
  • Shortness of breath

What Are the Causes of Goiter?

From common conditions to major diseases, goiter is usually caused by:

  • Lack of iodine – Iodine deficiency is the most common cause of goiter. The thyroid enlarges itself to get more iodine as soon as the deficiency is detected.
  • Hashimoto’s Disease – Also known as chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis, this is an autoimmune disorder that attacks the thyroid the way it would a virus. The swelling happens as compensation from the overstimulation of the thyroid gland which results from the underproduction of hormones.
  • Graves’ Disease – This is a type of hyperthyroidism — a condition that causes the thyroid to produce more hormones than needed by the body. The overstimulation causes thyroid enlargement.
  • Pregnancy – The human chorionic gonadotropin or HCG hormone, which is produced by the placenta during pregnancy, may cause slight thyroid swelling.
  • Thyroid nodules – Nodule growth in the thyroid may cause a change in its size.
  • Thyroiditis – This is inflammation caused by a viral infection or a woman’s postpartum period. It brings about pain in the neck area and abnormal thyroxine production.
  • Thyroid cancer – Tumor growth or the multiplication of cancer cells in the thyroid may cause a change in the gland’s size and shape.

RELATED: Olive Leaf Extract: 9 Benefits on Thyroid Health

Where Is Goiter Most Common?

Goiter symptoms have no known ties with the areas where its patients reside. But, countries with no salt legislation or those who rarely use iodized salt are more prone to iodine deficiency.

Goiter may also be more common in tropical countries that grow food rich in cyanide such as cassava and almonds, as an enlarged thyroid may also be caused by cyanide poisoning.

Who Is at Risk to Have Goiter?

Goiter is more prevalent among women who are pregnant or reaching their forties, as well as those with relatives who have a medical history of goiter.

Smokers are also prone to the condition.

People who undergo radiation therapy in the neck or chest or take immunosuppressing medications are prone to developing goiter.

Why Is Goiter More Common Among Females Than Males?

female checking thyroid gland | Goiter Causes, Symptoms and Treatments | enlarged thyroid
A woman checks her thyroid gland.

Given that hormonal changes occur more often among females, the possibility of over— or underproduction of thyroid hormones is also common among them. This is what causes pregnant women to be more prone to iodine deficiency.

How Is Goiter Diagnosed?

Depending on the symptoms present, a patient examination may be followed by laboratory tests that observe the activities of the thyroid hormone and antibodies. An ultrasound, MRI, CT scan, biopsy, or thyroid scan, may also be suggested depending on any finding detected by your doctor.

Thyroid Sonography

This is a diagnostic test that uses a sonogram that emits inaudible sound waves into the neck. The echoing sounds determine the status of the thyroid and nearby tissues.

Thyroid sonography detects the lump in the neck, its size, and its form (solid or cystic).

What Are the Treatment Options for Goiter?

A number of treatment options are available for different types of goiter symptoms. Regular consultations with your doctor are very common for small thyroid swelling, as well as proper supplementation for iodine deficiency, if any.

Further diagnosis such as hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, and thyroiditis may require medication and thyroid hormone replacement to decrease showing symptoms.

Other treatment options for goiter include the following:

When Should Goiter Be Removed?

The surgical procedure that operates on the thyroid gland is called thyroidectomy. It may remove the organ completely (total thyroidectomy) or partially (thyroid lobectomy).

Generally, the surgical removal of the thyroid (or a portion of it) is recommended based on the following:

  • size of the nodule – if it’s affecting breathing and swallowing or compressing neighboring body parts
  • malignancy – to prevent spreading to other organs
  • uncertain findings – to prevent potential complications or cancer
  • the use of medication or hormone replacement therapy has been deemed ineffective

What Are the Natural Remedies for Goiter?

Getting enough iodine in the diet helps in preventing or managing the symptoms of goiter.

Seaweeds and seafood are high in iodine, but do take precaution when eating them. Foods rich in iodine may greatly affect related conditions like hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.

The recommended daily requirement for iodine is 150 μg, as per the American Thyroid Association.

Do Goiters Go Away on Their Own?

Goiters may disappear on their own depending on their nature. A simple, benign, and small nodule has a higher likelihood of going away on its own compared to a large, malignant, and cystic nodule.

The disappearance of goiter nodules may also depend on the behavior of the necessary hormones – thyroid hormones and thyroid-stimulating hormone – and of the necessary organs – thyroid gland and pituitary gland.

 

Learn more about what causes goiter in this video from Good Health Good Life:

While it’s important to constantly be on the lookout for goiter symptoms, be sure to also check in with your doctor first to confirm any conditions before giving yourself prior medication.

Consulting with medical professionals also allows for a series of analytical tests and observations that will let you know which medication and treatment plan best suits you.

It is also important for adults to consume a healthy mix of daily Vitamins. We recommend this Vitamin D3 supplement.

Do you know of other or new treatment options for goiter? Share them with us in the comments section below!

Up Next: What Is Subacute Thyroiditis And How Can It Be Treated

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