The thyroid is one of the biggest glands of the body. It is situated underneath the Adam’s apple. It organizes how fast the body should use its calories, produce proteins and decide how responsive it should be from other respective hormones. When there is any sort of irregularities that occurs in the thyroid gland, goiter becomes very visible as the gland swells up and seems larger than normal. It is painless, however in some extreme cases there might be problems breathing or swallowing food. A cough may occur as well as a result of goiter. A lot of people panic mistaking it for cancer. Goiter is not fatal under any circumstances.

Sometimes goiter may occur for no specific reasons. In other cases, it may happen because the thyroid gland indicates overproduction of hormones or not enough. The pituitary gland can also provoke thyroid gland to increase its hormone production. Types of goiter can be broken down to 2 types:

  • Endemic Goiter
  • Sporadic Goiter

Iodine is a vital component for producing hormones in the thyroid gland. Endemic Goiter occurs in places that are far away from sea level, because then there aren’t sufficient amount of iodized-salt in the soil or natural water sources. Usually, cooking salts are produced with additional iodine to meet the body’s need for it. Iodine tablets are also used in drinking water to provide it to a larger group of people. Central Asia, South America, Central Africa and the Andes are places most affected by this disease. Central United States of America used to have a crisis with Goiter too, but the government took proper action for its prevention.

The causes for sporadic goiter are unsure. But researches have shown that medications such as lithium or aminoglutethimid may play a role in causing it.

The symptoms for goiter do not occur for all cases. But when it does, it is definitely visible. There will be a swelling on the neck, sizes may vary. It may be noticeable under close observation or it may be very large, visible to the naked eye. Other symptoms may cause difficulty in breathing or swallowing food. An irritating cough may occur as well due to the tightening feeling in the throat.

There is not any borderline of age for goiter to occur. It may occur at infancy or during adulthood. But most cases have seen this occur after 50’s. Dietary plan may need to be reevaluated to include more iodine. Women are largely at risk to get Goiter than man according to studies, so it is important to consume iodine rich meals for women. Thyroid irregularities occur after pregnancy or menopause, hence it is important to take this issue seriously for pregnant and pre-menopausal women. People with a family medical history of autoimmune diseases may also hold a risk. Exposure to any sort of radiation, such as x- rays or nuclear facilities may increase the risk of developing Goiter.

Small goiters do not necessarily lead to any complications. However, in some cases large goiters may lead to other complications such as hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. It may also lead to fatigue or uncontrollable weight gain or weight loss along with irritability and insomnia.

For treatment, doctors usually go for the wait and see approach. However for extreme cases doctors prescribes medications. For hypothyroidism levothyroxine is a drug that replaces the hormones. Aspirins are helpful for inflammation of the thyroid gland due to Goiter. Surgery may be needed if the gland becomes too big to bear or develops into thyroid cancer. Another way of treating overactive Goiter is radioactive iodine. It may cut down the thyroid gland but may lead the gland to become inactive which will cause the need of consumption of hormone boosting medicine.

Goiter does not have to be a complicated issue. It can be easily prevented by a healthy dose of iodine in everyday meals.

Last updated on Jul 30th, 2010 and filed under Endocrine System. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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