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Goitre is abnormal swelling of the thyroid gland, which is located before the trachea. The size of the growth can vary from small to large.

Another condition is known as the toxic nodular goitre is characterised by formation of multiple tumours or adenomas on the thyroid gland.

Signs and Symptoms of Goitre
  • In many of cases there are no symptoms other than the appearance of large swelling in the neck. The size of a goitre can range from very small to very large.
  • Breathing problems may occur - if the goitre is large enough and presses on the windpipe.
  • Swallowing problems may also occur - if the goitre is large enough to press on the esophagus.
  • Feeling tired and sleeping excessively.
  • Dry and Thickened Skin.
  • Depression and problems with memory and concentration may also occur.
  • Constipation.
  • Sweaty moist palms.
  • Rapid Heartbeat.
  • Increased Appetite.
  • Poor Memory and Concentration.
  • Deteriorating or slowing growth rate.
  • Brittle Hair.
  • The suffering person may have a croaky or hoarse voice.
  • Slow Reflexes.
  • Delayed as well as precocious sexual development
  • High Cholesterol Levels
  • Girls suffering from goitre may suffer from increased menstrual flow.


Causes for goitre

Thyroid enlargement can occur due to the following reasons: 

  • Deficiency of iodine – Iodine aids in production of thyroid hormones. The gland enlarges to produce enough thyroid hormones.
  • Grave’s disease- overproduction of thyroid hormones
  • Inflammation of the thyroid gland, thyroid cancer
  • Underactive thyroid gland
  • Development of nodules in thyroid gland
  • Cigarette smoking, sensitivity to certain foods like soy, peanuts, broccoli
  • During pregnancy – caused by human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) hormone


Risk factors for goitre are:
  • Women are at greater risk. People above 50 years of age are vulnerable
  • Those taking antiretroviral drugs, immunosupressants, etc.
  • Medical history of autoimmune diseases
  • Have been exposed to radiation therapy many times near the neck and chest
  • Family history of goitre and thyroid diseases


When to see a doctor?

Check with your doctor on sensing swelling near your epiglottis, change in tone or any of those abnormalities mentioned above.


Diagnosis of goitre

Your doctor can confirm goitre by conducting a simple physical exam in your neck. Further diagnosis will be needed to evaluate the type of goitre and the reason behind it. 

Tests that your doctor would recommend are:

Blood tests: to check the levels of thyroid hormones (T3 and T4), thyroid stimulating hormone and presence of abnormal antibodies (autoimmune antibodies)

The structure and function of the thyroid gland will be evaluated through ultrasonography and radioactive iodine scan

Lastly, fine needle biopsy might also be conducted to look at the cells of the thyroid gland under a microscope


Treatment for goitre

There are several lines of treatment for goitre which depend of the size of the goitre, the complications you are facing and any other medical condition that you might be suffering from. In many cases, doctors prefer to observe improvement in swelling by incorporating simple changes in diet.

Some options for treating goitre are:

Medicines, like levothyroxine may be prescribed to boost thyroid production. Pain and inflammation can be reduced with steroids.

Iodine deficiency can be sorted with small doses of iodine or potassium iodine solution while the treatment for hyperthyroidism will be primarily directed towards the cause.

Radioactive iodine or surgery of the thyroid gland might also be done to treat goitre. The thyroid gland may be partially treated or completely removed.


Home remedies for goitre

Your doctor might ask you to increase consumption of iodized salt after evaluating your heart health.

When iodine deficiency is the reason- you can incorporate natural sources of iodine like dried sea weed, tuna, eggs, cow milk, shrimp, beans, fortified grains and cereals, etc.

Avoid emotional stress as it affects your thyroid levels 

Do’s and Don’ts
  • Exercise of neck is useful in this condition.
  • Sour and heavy foods are contraindicated.

Advice from your physician 
  • Treatment may not be necessary if the goitre is small.
  • Hypothyroidism should be treated, and this treatment often leads to a substantial reduction in the size of the goitre.
  • Removal of the goitre may be necessary if it causes difficulty with breathing or swallowing. This requires removing the thyroid. The complete removal of the thyroid gland removes the body’s ability to produce thyroid hormone. In this case, oral thyroxine supplements are necessary to avoid harm from hypothyroidism.
  • An alternative to surgery is radioiodine therapy with or without the pre-injection of a synthetic thyroid stimulating hormone, TSH, which can relieve obstruction and reduce the size of the goitre by 30–65%.
Written by: healthplus24.com team
Date last Modified: March 26, 2014

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