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You'll find your thyroid gland just below your Adam's apple. This gland is responsible for secreting hormones that regulate the metabolic process where food is converted into energy, as well as other important bodily functions. Mood, digestion, heart rate, and respiration are also functions that the thyroid controls.
When you have a goiter, your thyroid's size increases. This condition is more common in women, although anyone could develop a goiter. Your thyroid function could be affected.
Neck swelling is the most common goiter symptom. Nodules that might be present within the thyroid can range from small to large sizes. When there are nodules present, they can increase the amount of visible swelling.
Some of the other symptoms include a hoarse voice, breathing or swallowing difficulties, coughing, and dizziness accompanying raised arms.
What Causes Goiters?
In most cases, goiters are the result of iodine deficiency. One of the functions that iodine fulfills is helping your body make the necessary thyroid hormones. This gland has to work harder to produce these hormones when your iodine levels are insufficient, contributing to the larger size.
There are also a few other causes behind thyroid issues that can lead to goiter formation. Grave's disease happens when your thyroid overproduces hormones, which can increase the gland's size.
Hashimoto's thyroiditis or Hashimoto's disease hormones. occurs when your thyroid does not produce enough hormones. The pituitary gland makes up for the deficit, increasing the size of the thyroid.
Inflammation unrelated to Graves or Hashimoto's disease can also cause goiter formation. Viruses can cause this condition.
Benign nodules may also contribute to swelling. These cysts may be fluid-filled or solid.
Thyroid cancer can cause swelling, but it is less common than non-cancerous nodules. When cancer is the cause, the swelling is on one side of the gland.
Sometimes pregnant women can have thyroid swelling.
Are there different types of goiters?
There are several different types, considering the varying causes behind this condition. The different types of goiters can range from types typical of iodine deficiency to types caused by medications.
Colloid or endemic types result from an iodine deficiency. In most cases, this situation occurs in areas with low iodine levels.
The nontoxic types of goiters often have their origins in the use of some medications like lithium. Toxic types occur when the thyroid enlarges and has nodules that start producing their own hormones.
Who has the greatest risk?
People who have a family history of thyroid problems, are iodine-deficient, or have conditions that decrease their iodine levels have a high risk of developing goiters.
Women have a higher risk than men do for developing this condition. Menopause or pregnancy can cause goiters, for as-yet unknown reasons.
People over 40 have a somewhat higher risk. If you've ever had radiation treatments in the chest or neck area, your risk is somewhat increased.
How is the condition diagnosed?
The first thing your doctor will do is see if your neck has any swelling. A blood test to check your thyroid hormone levels is one test that is possible.
If you have elevated thyroid levels, your doctor might perform a scan. Ultrasounds can also be used to monitor what is going on with a goiter.
When there are nodules, your doctor may take biopsies for further exploration in a lab. These samples can help your doctor determine if there is cancer or other abnormalities present.
There are several goiter treatments available, depending on your health and other conditions, the symptoms, condition, and size. The smallest goiters might not require treatment.
Medications, such as steroids, might be used. Another treatment often used involves radioactive iodine taken orally.
If your condition is unresponsive to medication or your thyroid has gotten large, your doctor might recommend surgery. During surgery, the gland will be removed.
Dealing with a goiter may seem troublesome, but Faith Medical Clinic in Canyon, Texas can help.