The word goitre indicates an enlarged thyroid. It could lead to a thyroid gland that is generating too less hormone (hypothyroidism) or too much hormone (hyperthyroidism). It refers to the uneven growth of the thyroid gland.

Symptoms of Thyroid Goitres

The most common sign of a goitre is a lump in the neck which is usually benign. 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 goitres are not large and do not show any symptoms.

Types of Goitre

The two types of goitre are simple goitre and exophthalmic goitre.

The simple goitre is caused by less secretion of thyroid hormone due to the deficiency of iodine in the diet. The thyroid gland enlarges to secrete more hormone and results in goitre.

In exophthalmic goitre, the thyroid gland enlarges due to the presence of cancer or the formation of nodules in the thyroid gland. The enlarged gland is overactive and secretes large amounts of thyroid hormone. The main symptom is the bulging of eyeballs also known as exophthalmos. This disease is also known as Grave’s disease. It occurs more often in females. It is an autoimmune disorder where a person produces antibodies that mimic the action of TSH.

Causes of Thyroid Goiters

Iodine Deficiency and Autoimmune Disorders

Globally, the most recognized cause of thyroid goitre has been 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. Goitres could also be caused by thyroid nodules.

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is the next most common cause in countries that use iodized salt. Goitre 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 goitre in a physical test by examining your neck, whether it is large enough or not. But when the diagnosis has to be confirmed, the doctor might suggest few tests including blood tests for thyroid hormones, an ultrasound and a radioactive scan.

Symptoms of exophthalmic Goitre

Excess secretion of thyroid hormone resulting In high metabolic rate, rapid heart rate, high body temperature, nervousness, irritability and restlessness. Osteoporosis occurs due to excess loss of calcium and phosphorus from bones.

Treatment of Thyroid Goiters

Does it Need Surgery?

The causes behind goitre 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 goitre from growing larger but would not shrink it completely. One should consume radioactive iodine or medication viz. a treatment that decreases the goitre’s size, in the case of Graves disease.

For more detailed information about Thyroid Goitres, visit BYJU’S.

Frequently Asked Questions on Goitre


What is the structure of thyroid gland?

Thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland which is composed of two lateral lobes. It is present on the either side of trachea.


What are the hormones secreted by the thyroid gland?

The hormones secreted by the thyroid gland are tri-iodothyronine, tetra-iodothyronin (thyroxine) and thyrocalcitonin.


What is TSH?

Thyroid Stimulating Hormone or TSH is a hormone secreted by the adenohypophysis of pituitary gland.  It acts on the thyroid gland and stimulates the secretion of thyroxine.

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