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Thyroid: What Is a Goiter?

By    |   Tuesday, 12 Apr 2016 07:31 PM

When someone has a goiter, it means the thyroid is enlarged and perhaps inflamed. It can result from the thyroid producing too many or too few hormones, known as hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism respectively.

It can, however, also occur when it is producing a sufficient amount of hormones. A goiter on the thyroid does not necessarily mean that the gland is malfunctioning.

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The thyroid secretes hormones into the blood and is a part of the endocrine system. It’s found at the very bottom of the neck, right above the breastbone.

One of the most common causes of goiters is iodine deficiency, the American Thyroid Association reports. Without iodine in the blood, the thyroid cannot produce hormones, which triggers the brain to increase the size of the thyroid to foment greater output.

Hashimoto’s disease, an autoimmune disease where the body attacks the thyroid and causes it to not produce hormones, however, is a more common cause of a goiter in the United States, the American Thyroid Association notes.

On the opposite end, Graves’ disease, which triggers the thyroid to keep producing hormones, causes the body to secrete a substance that keeps the thyroid producing, even though the brain is telling it to stop, and the thyroid enlarges.

Having several growths of tissues sprout from the thyroid — these are known as thyroid nodules — may also cause swelling of the thyroid and result in a goiter, the American Thyroid Association adds.

Most goiters are discovered during a physical examination, the American Thyroid Association says.

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A goiter can be so large that it appears like a mass on the neck, according to Endocrine Web. Other symptoms result from the pressure being placed on the throat. These include coughing, being unable to breathe at night, and the feeling of something stuck in the throat.

Treatments may vary in effectiveness. Some will be able to make the goiter disappear while others will only shrink it by a little, the American Thyroid Association states. How to do so depends on the cause of the inflammation.

Goiter patients with iodine deficiency should take iodine supplements to help, says the American Thyroid Association. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis patients may benefit from thyroid hormone supplements, and those with Graves’ disease may find improvement after radioactive iodine therapy.

In severe cases, surgery may remove the thyroid gland completely.

It is important to talk with your doctor if you notice any lumps on your throat or experience other symptoms of a goiter.

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When someone has a goiter, it means the thyroid is enlarged and perhaps inflamed. It can result from the thyroid producing too many or too few hormones, known as hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism respectively.
thyroid, what, is, goiter
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2016-31-12
Tuesday, 12 Apr 2016 07:31 PM
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