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Goiter


A goiter is an enlargement of the thyroid gland. It is not cancer.


Symptoms

The main symptom is a swollen thyroid gland. The size may range from a single small nodule to a large neck lump.


Some people with a simple goiter may have symptoms of an underactive thyroid gland.


Rarely, the swollen thyroid can put pressure on the windpipe and food pipe (esophagus), which can lead to:

  • Breathing difficulties (may rarely occur with very large goiters)
  • Cough
  • Hoarseness
  • Swallowing difficulties

Treatment

A goiter only needs to be treated if it is causing symptoms. Treatments for an enlarged thyroid include:

  • Thyroid hormone replacement pills, if the goiter is due to an underactive thyroid
  • Small doses of Lugol's iodine or potassium iodine solution if the goiter is due to a lack of iodine
  • Radioactive iodine to shrink the gland, especially if the thyroid is producing too much thyroid hormone
  • Surgery (thyroidectomy) to remove all or part of the gland

Prognosis

A simple goiter may disappear on its own, or may become larger. Over time, the thyroid gland may stop making enough thyroid hormone. This condition is called hypothyroidism. Less commonly, a goiter may become toxic and produce thyroid hormone on its own. This can cause high levels of thyroid hormone, a condition called hyperthyroidism.


For more information on goiters click here