A goiter is the abnormal enlargement of the thyroid gland, which is located at the base of the neck. The thyroid gland is responsible for secreting hormones that regulate metabolism, growth and development, brain development, and body temperature.
Goiters are usually painless but can cause other symptoms.
- Visible swelling at the base of the neck
- Tight feeling in the throat
- Difficulty swallowing
- Difficulty breathing
The most common cause of goiter worldwide is iodine deficiency. However, this is not usually the case for people in the U.S., as iodine is added to various foods (notably table salt).
The thyroid produces two main hormones: thyroxine (T-4) and triiodothyronine (T-3). These hormones regulate metabolism. Goiters are often linked to producing too little or too much of T-3 and T-4. However, just because someone has a goiter doesn’t necessarily mean that their hormone production and regulation are off. They could be producing normal amounts of hormones.
There are several other possible causes of goiter:
- Inflammation (thyroiditis)
- Grave’s Disease
- Hashimoto’s disease
- Multinodular goiter
- Solitary thyroid nodules
- Thyroid cancer
Depending on the size of your goiter, your doctor may recommend observation to make sure that it doesn’t cause any problems. You may need medication to balance out your hormone levels, and, in serious cases, surgery is required (thyroidectomy).
If you suspect that you have thyroid problems, schedule an appointment with Totum ENT today.