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What Is a Goiter?

  • Definition: Goiter is known to be a swelling of hypertrophy of the thyroid gland which is located in the neck. It is said to be responsible for the secretion, growth as well as the metabolism regulating hormones. Goiter is basically an enlargement of the thyroid glands. The thyroid is said to be a butterfly-shaped gland which is located just below the neck and below the Adam’s apple. Most of the cases of goiter are painless but a large case of goiter can make an individual cough thereby making them difficult to swallow or breath.
  • Causes of goiter:  One of the major causes is the lack of iodine present in the body. Existence of any autoimmune disease is also need to be linked with existence of goiter in the developed countries. There are a varied number of factors which are said to be the contributing factor of developing goiter, few of those are grave’s disease, hashimoto’s disease, thyroid cancer, pregnancy, inflammation or multinodular gland.
  • Diagnosis: Few of the common methods of diagnosing goiter would be by carrying out blood tests as well as certain scans.Blood test is known to determine the amount of hormones which are produced by the thyroid as well as the pituitary glands. In case if the thyroid is underactive then the level of the hormone would also be low but at the same time the level of the thyroid stimulating hormone or the TSH levels would tend to rise since the pituitary gland is trying to stimulate the thyroid glands for producing more of the thyroid hormone. Thyroid scans are also said to be useful and provide information on the nature as well as the size of the thyroid but these test are very much time-consuming, invasive and also very much expensive than the ultrasound scans.
  • Treatment: If the goiter is not too large and also does not lead to any severe form of symptoms then the treatment does not seem necessary. In severe cases or based on the condition, the doctor can then recommend to put you on observation, medications or recommend a surgery for curing this goiter. In case of observation the doctor would check if the thyroid isn’t causing any trouble then they may recommend just to wait and have a routine check up approach.
  • The doctor can make use of the synthetic thyroid hormone for treating the underactive thyroid whereas in case of the overactive thyroid it can be take care by use of anti-thyroid drugs.
  • Surgery is something very rarely made use of or suggested as an option and it is said to be only used when the individual experiences such as finding it difficult to swallow or breath.
  • Complications: In case of the small goiter which mostly does not cause any physical or cosmetic issue, there isn’t much to bother about but in case of a large goiter there can be issues of difficulty in breathing or swallowing hence they would need to be some form of treatment. Goiters which are known to be caused from other conditions such as the hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism is said to be also associated with a varied number of signs which can range from weight gain, fatigue, sudden weight loss, getting irritated quiet easily and lack of sleep or insomnia.
  • Risk Factors: Few of the risk factors which can increase the risk of developing goiter in an individual are, not enough of iodine, gender role of being female, a pregnant woman, exposure to radiation, having a medical history of autoimmune disorders, age factor wherein the individual is above 40 years of age.