Goiter is defined as a condition where the thyroid gland become enlarged. It is important to note that the thyroid gland produces hormones specifically thyroxine and triiodothyronine. These hormones have a vital role in certain bodily functions including mood, body temperature, excitability, digestion, pulse rate and others.
What are the causes?
Always bear in mind that a goiter has a variety of causes based on its type such as:
- Simple – this type develops if the thyroid gland could not release enough hormones to comply with the needs of the body. The gland compensates by growing bigger.
- Endemic – this type forms among individuals in certain regions of the globe who lack iodine in their diet.
- Sporadic – in this form, there is no known cause, but some cases are triggered by certain medications such as lithium.
What are the indications?
The general signs of goiter include:
- Swelling in the front part of the neck, right beneath the Adam’s apple
- Swelling of the neck vein
- Feeling of tightness in the throat region
- Dizziness once the arms are raised above the head
Other uncommon symptoms that might arise include coughing, difficulty breathing, wheezing and difficulty swallowing.
Management of goiter
The treatment is based on the size of the thyroid, symptoms and the cause. The commonly used treatment options include:
- For a small goiter that does not cause any issues, the doctor might decide to simply monitor it for any changes.
- Medications such as levothyroxine is given if the cause is thyroid that is underactive. As for a thyroid that is overactive, medications such as methimazole and propylthiouracil can be given. If the cause is inflammation, aspirin or a corticosteroid is given.
- Radioactive iodine treatment is used for an overactive thyroid where radioactive iodine is taken orally.
- Biopsy involves the removal of a tissue sample or cells to be analyzed in a laboratory.
- Surgery might be an option to remove all or a section of the thyroid gland. This is needed if the goiter is large and triggers issues with swallowing and breathing.