An enlarged thyroid gland is the classical symptom of goiter. The size of the enlarged gland may either appear as a single nodule, or large lump. In rare cases, goiter may produce the following signs and symptoms :
Several tests are employed for diagnosing goiter. These include:
Treatment of goiter would depend on the nature and size of the enlarged gland, underlying disease conditions if any, and symptoms experienced by the individual. The following types of methods are employed for treating the condition:
In certain cases, simple forms of goiter can resolve on its own, without treatment. In some other cases, the gland can eventually enlarge, as a result of which, thyroid gland can stop producing enough thyroid hormone, leading to hypothyroidism.
Iodine deficiency is the most common cause of goiter in countries that do not use iodized salt. However, goiter is also a common occurrence in those parts of the world that routinely use iodized salt. In such conditions, following are the factors that lead to goiter:
Iodine deficiency is the most common cause of goiter worldwide. It has been estimated that about 200 to 800 million individuals with iodine deficiency develop goiter. In the US, majority of the cases of goiter occur due to underlying autoimmune disease, such as Hashimoto thyroiditis . Females are more prone to develop goiter, as compared to males, with female to male ratio been 4:1.
The functioning of the thyroid gland is regulated by the hormone TSH, which is produced by the pituitary gland. The thyroid gland produces 2 hormones, namely T3 and T4. These hormones are responsible for regulating the metabolism. Along with T3 and T4, the gland also produces the hormone known as calcitonin which regulates the calcium levels in blood. The pituitary gland along with hypothalamus, also controls and regulates the hormones that are produced.
Any form of deficiency occurring in synthesis of thyroid hormone, causes increased production of TSH. Increase in the levels of TSH causes the thyroid gland to enlarge, causing in order to normalize the levels of thyroid hormones. When such a phenomenon continues for prolonged duration, goiter develops .
Taking iodized salt can prevent the development of most forms of simple goiter . Other forms of goiter can seldom be prevented.
Improper functioning of the thyroid gland causes it to enlarge, which eventually paves way for development of compressive syndromes. The thyroid gland is anatomically linked to the trachea, larynx, esophagus and laryngeal nerves. As a result of this, the enlargement of the gland, also gravely affects the functioning of the neighboring regions. Goiter is a painless condition; however in some it can pose difficulty in swallowing food .
Goiter is a condition characterized by enlarged thyroid gland. Enlargement of the gland is in many cases non cancerous in nature. Such a type of condition strikes more women than men.
Iodine deficiency is the most common cause of goiter worldwide. However, in countries where iodized salt is regularly used, certain underlying disease conditions, and autoimmune diseases cause goiter.
In majority of the cases, goiter does not cause any symptoms. In cases when the gland enlarges to a great extent, individuals experience difficulty in breathing and swallowing. Affected individuals also experience hoarseness in voice.
A preliminary physical examination is done, followed by blood tests to determine the levels of thyroid hormones. In addition, thyroid scans, ultrasonography and biopsy, are also indicated to analyze the fundamental cause of goiter.
Simple forms of goiter do not require treatment. In many cases, a wait and watch approach is considered. When symptoms are experienced, the mode of treatment is designed, depending on nature and size of thyroid gland. Medications, surgery and radioactive iodine, are administered for treating goiter.