5 Warning Signs And Symptoms Of Goiter, An Abnormal Swelling Of The Thyroid

Date April 6, 2018 15:52

Goiter is a term used to describe an abnormally enlarged thyroid. Goiters vary in size; in some people, they can be small and cause no symptoms at all, while in other people they can grow quite large and prevent normal breathing and swallowing. Goiter is not a separate condition in itself; it's usually a symptom of a problem with the thyroid gland.

In the United States and other developed countries, the most common cause of goiters is autoimmune disorders affecting the thyroid. In developing countries, especially those in inland areas, goiters are often caused by a lack of iodine in diet.

A goiter may or may not require treatment, depending on its size, cause, and symptoms that accompany it.

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Who is at risk of developing a goiter?

There is a number of factors that can cause a goiter to develop. These factors include the following:

  • having a thyroid disorder;
  • inadequate iodine intake;
  • consuming too much iodine;
  • being female;
  • being older than 40;
  • hormonal changes during pregnancy, menopause, or puberty;
  • use of certain medicines, including lithium;
  • having a close blood relative with an autoimmune disorder;
  • radiation therapy to the head, neck, or chest.

What causes a goiter to develop?

Many factors can cause a person to grow a goiter. In some people with goiters, there's nothing wrong with the thyroid. But in most cases, goiters have a known cause, which may be one of the following:

  • autoimmune disorders affecting the thyroid: Hashimoto's disease (causes underactive thyroid) and Graves' disease (causes overactive thyroid);
  • lack of dietary iodine;
  • consuming too much iodine;
  • thyroiditis (inflammation of the thyroid);
  • rarely, thyroid cancer.

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Symptoms caused by goiter

Goiter itself can cause the following symptoms (if it's large):

  • a significant swelling at the front of the neck;
  • a feeling that something is stuck in the throat;
  • trouble breathing and swallowing;
  • coughing;
  • hoarse voice.

Depending on its cause, symptoms that can accompany a goiter include the following:

  • increased sensitivity to heat or cold;
  • unintentional weight gain or loss;
  • increased heart rate;
  • increased perspiration;
  • hair loss;
  • extreme tiredness;
  • irritability and nervousness;
  • trouble sleeping.

If you have symptoms described above, talk to your doctor. He or she may order a blood test and other tests to check whether your thyroid is functioning normally.

Source: Mayo Clinic, Medical News Today, WebMD

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This article is solely for informational purposes. Do not self-diagnose or self-medicate, and in all cases consult a certified healthcare professional before using any information presented in the article. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not bear any responsibility for harm that may result from using the information provided in the article.