Goiter: causes, symptoms, types and treatment

For various reasons, part of the population has a disease such as an enlargement of the thyroid gland and a violation of its function (goiter), which in the absence of treatment leads to serious consequences. In order to see a doctor in time, you need to know the first signs of the disease.

What is a goiter?

Goiter definition as the swelling in the neck below the voice box which is caused due to the enlargement of the thyroid gland present inside the neck.

The goiter occurs due to the excessive production of the thyroid hormone or the underproduction of the thyroid hormone. The goiter symptoms are easily visible and the recognition of the disorder is easier. The size of the goiter lies in the range of a small nodule to a very large swollen neck.

Usually, a simple blood test is all that will be needed in order for your doctor to ascertain if you have an enlarged thyroid, or if your hair loss is the symptom of something else. Of course what that ‘something else’ could be is a myriad of conditions that can require further tests.

Symptoms of goiter

At the first stage, the disease is asymptomatic. Only with the enlargement of the gland, one can visually see a thickening of the neck (symmetrical with diffuse and not symmetrical with nodular forms).

As goiter is the enlargement of the thyroid gland located in the neck so the goiter symptoms which occur commonly is the pressure is built on the food pipe as well as the windpipe which may further lead to:

1. Difficulty in breathing: this is also referred to as shortness of breath.

2. Cough.

3. Problems arise while swallowing: this is mainly felt inside the neck or lower down. The food is not properly swallowed and it appears to have stuck inside the throat.

4. There may be also a problem of wheezing (a whistle-like sound is produced when air is exhaled during respiration and is generally a breathing disorder).

5. The veins in the neck start swelling.

– In case the arms are raised above the head then a feeling of dizziness occurs.

– One of The main goiter symptoms is that the person suffering from goiter suffers from mental disorders like depression and other mood swings most of the time.

– The goiter occurs due to the over or the lesser production of the thyroid hormones.

– In most cases the goiters are painless but in inflamed thyroid, pain is there.

– A strong feeling of sore throat occurs in the case of goiter.

– The concentration of the patient is reduced, and he/she feels unable to concentrate.

– The patient tends to be fatigued and tends to sleep a lot.

– One of the main goiter symptoms is constipation.

If any above stated symptoms are noticed then, the person should undergo the necessary testing and should undergo the medications and even surgery. It is very important to consult a competent endocrinologist for proper diagnosis and treatment. (What diseases does an endocrinologist treat) An enlarged gland may indicate more serious diseases.

Goiter causes

The main reason for the increase in the thyroid gland with reduced functionality is the lack of iodine in food and water.

To produce the necessary amount of hormones, thyroid must receive iodine from the blood. If it is not enough in the blood, the gland increases in size to provide the body with this substance.

Preventive measures come down to eating iodine-containing foods and iodized salt.

For reasons unknown to science, in the human body, the immune system begins to produce antibodies against the cells of its own thyroid gland. In response, the gland begins to produce a many hormones and an increase in volume. So a diffuse toxic goiter is formed.

Signs and symptoms of non-toxic enlarged goiter include stridor (a rasping noise produced when inhaling or exhaling because of the abnormal narrowing of the windpipe by the goiter); respiratory difficulties and dysphagia, as the windpipe and oesophagus are compressed; single- or multi-nodular, or irregularly enlarged thyroid; and, dizziness (or syncope) induced by raising the arms above the head, caused by the obstructed downward flow of blood in the veins.

In treating non-toxic enlarged thyroid, the goal of doctors is to reduce thyroid hyperplasia. Hormone replacement, diet, radiation and sometimes, surgery, is the treatment for an enlarged thyroid or non-toxic goiter.

Toxic multinodular goiter is a disease accompanied by the appearance of one or more nodes of the thyroid gland, in which they begin to produce an increased and uncontrolled amount of thyroid hormones. All methods of treating multinodular goiter must be divided into two groups: therapeutic treatment with drugs and radioactive iodine, and surgical.

Goiter treatment

 Once a person has been diagnosed with goiter then the goiter treatment should be started immediately. Keep in mind that goiter is a curable disorder if goiter treatment is carried out properly and under the guidance of an expert medical practitioner.

There are various methods for goiter treatment, and they are based on the size, symptoms observed and the underlying causes and hence accordingly the types of goiter treatment given to a patient are as follows:

1.Observation. The patient who is diagnosed with goiter is kept under observation and if the symptoms and the functioning of the gland are normal then the doctors tend to wait and watch to know whether the disorder progresses or not and if it’s a severe case hen either surgery is done or other medications are provided.

2. Radioactive iodine therapy. This therapy is given in case there is the growth of the nodules or the goiter as a whole.

3. By means of diet. As it is a known fact that goiter is caused due to the deficiency of the iodine, so in that perspective iodine-rich diet plays an important role. So, foods like fish, sea vegetables should be included in our daily diet to compensate for the iodine deficiency in our body.

4. Medication. They are an important component for the goiter treatment and include the medicines which contain the thyroid hormones like T4 which suppress the growth of the thyroid gland. The important medicines so included are:

Levothyroxine: this is responsible for reducing the amount of TSH induced in the blood, as a result, the growth of the thyroid does not take place. The side effect of taking this is that it may cause cortical bone loss.

– Sodium iodide: it is an antithyroid agent and leads to a reduction in the size of the goiter.

5. Surgery: also known as the Thyroidectomy is another goiter treatment done in extreme cases.

Goiter surgery

Life with goiter becomes difficult and should be treated properly. The various treatments include radioactive iodine therapy, keeping a check on the diet, and also the goiter surgery.

There are medications that will help control this condition, however, if the treatments fail, and then goiter surgery may have to be the last choice.

Goiter surgery is the partial or complete removal of the thyroid gland. This is usually indicated if the enlarged gland presses on the other adjoining structures of the throat. It is a relatively simple and safe procedure that involves general anesthesia. The gland, once removed, will be systematically checked for malignancy. The ensuing results will determine what further treatments need to be done.

After the goiter surgery, there will be soreness felt, and swallowing may be difficult. These are temporary discomforts that can easily be relieved by pain relievers. Expect a quarter of an inch thick tube coming out of the throat right after the surgery. This is the drain that will ensure that no fluids will accumulate in the area affected. The tube will be removed after 24 hours.

Goiter surgery recovery will take about two weeks. Barring any complications, the resumption of normal activities and relief from post-surgery pain is to be anticipated. After the goiter surgery, expect to be given the maintenance of medications. These medicines, thyroxins, are hormone replacements that will take the place of the hormones that will no longer be secreted naturally. These will stabilize the metabolism of your body. In addition, calcium supplements will also be prescribed for the maintenance of calcium levels in the blood.

What are goitrogens and what do they have to do with thyroid disease?

Goitrogens are naturally occurring substances that can interfere with your thyroid. Goitrogens interfere with the metabolism of iodine. Your thyroid needs iodine to work properly. Its that simple. So what foods should you avoid if you have hypothyroidism?

Soy is probably the worst offender. Since soy affects hormones, it can seriously disrupt thyroid function.

There are also some vegetables including broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, and mustard greens that are known goitrogens. If you have a known thyroid problem you should avoid these foods. There are plenty of vegetables that are safe to eat, which will not affect your thyroid. When cooked, these vegetables appear to be safer to consume because the goitrogenic compounds are heat sensitive.

The last group of goitrogens has a very mild affect on your thyroid. These foods include peaches, peanuts, spinach, and strawberries. Small quantities of this food should be safe to eat, even if you do have thyroid disease. Just be careful not to overdo it with these foods.

Talk to your doctor if you have concerns about eating these foods. It may make sense to eliminate these foods for a month to see if it makes a difference in how you feel.

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