The word goiter indicates an enlarged thyroid. The presence of a goiter does not mean that the thyroid gland is malfunctioning. It could happen to a gland that is generating too less hormone (hypothyroidism) or too much hormone (hyperthyroidism). A goiter indicates a condition that causes the thyroid to grow unevenly.
Symptoms of Thyroid Goiters
The most common sign of a goiter is a lump in the neck which is benign usually. When it is large enough, one could see and spot the lump clearly. One could also feel tender to touch and feel difficulty while swallowing. Certain goiters are not large and do not show any symptoms.
Causes of Thyroid Goiters
Iodine Deficiency and Autoimmune Disorders
Globally, the most recognized cause of thyroid goiter has been due to iodine deficiency, however, it is rare in the US since there is plenty of iodine in drinking water and certain foods we eat like table salt. Goiters could be caused also by thyroid nodules.
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is the next most common cause in countries that use iodized salt. Goiter could also result in cyanide poisoning which is particularly common in tropical countries where people like eating cyanide-rich cassava root in staple food.
Diagnosing Thyroid Goiters
The doctor could spot a thyroid goiter in a physical test by examining your neck on whether it is large enough or not. But when the diagnosis has to be confirmed, the doctor might suggest few tests including blood tests, a thyroid, an ultrasound and a radioactive scan.
Treatment of Thyroid Goiters
Does it Need Surgery?
The causes behind goiter determine the kind of treatment it should undergo. For instance, if it is caused by Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, patients are required to take a daily pill meant for thyroid hormone replacement. This prevents the goiter from growing larger but would not shrink it completely. One should consume radioactive iodine or medication viz. a treatment that decreases the goiter’s size, in the case of Graves disease.
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