Goiter – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Published: 20th June 2008
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Goiter is an enlargement of the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is a small gland located in the neck, below your Adam's apple. The thyroid can be enlarged due to generalized enlargement of the thyroid or nodules (tissue growths) within the thyroid. The thyroid gland produces the hormones thyroxine (also called T4) and a small amount of triiodothyronine (also called T3). Most of the T4 is converted to T3 outside of the thyroid.

There are different kinds of goiters. A simple goiter usually occurs when the thyroid gland is not able to produce enough thyroid hormone to meet the body's needs. The thyroid gland makes up for this by becoming larger, which usually overcomes mild deficiencies of thyroid hormone. A simple goiter may be classified as either an endemic (colloid) goiter or a sporadic (nontoxic) goiter.Endemic goiters occur within groups of people living in geographical areas with iodine-depleted soil, usually regions away from the sea coast.

Colloid nodular goiters tend to occur in certain geographical areas with iodine-depleted soil, usually areas away from the sea coast. An area is defined as endemic for goiter if more than 10 % of children aged 6 to 12 have goiters.Certain things in the environment may also cause thyroid enlargement. Small- to moderate-sized goiters are relatively common in the United States. The Great Lakes, Midwest, and Intermountain regions were once known as the "goiter belt."

The presence of an enlarged goiter usually means that the thyroid gland is not functioning normally. Causes of a goiter include an imbalance in the thyroid gland and Goiter symptoms generally occur in a gland that is overactive, producing too much hormone (hyperthyroidism), or that is underactive, producing too little hormone (hypothyroidism).

Causes

There are various types and causes of goiter. In underdeveloped parts of the world, it is often brought on by a lack of iodine in the diet. Iodine---found in fish products, drinking water and table salt---is essential for the production of thyroid hormone. Without it, the gland enlarges in an attempt to increase the output of the hormone. The World Health Organization estimates that 750 million people still suffer from this problem, earning it the name endemic goiter.

Take Iodine in its organic form. Eat foods like turnips, carrots, garlic, pineapples, whole rice, tomatoes, watercress, strawberries, guavas, lettuce, onions, oats, citrus fruits, egg yolks, seafoods, etc should be taken in ample amounts.

Treatment

Nontoxic goiters usually grow very slowly and may not cause any symptoms, and thus may not require treatment. However, if the goiter grows rapidly, or you have symptoms that affect your neck or obstruct your breathing functions, treatment may be required. If a nontoxic goiter progresses to the nodular stage, and the nodule is found to be cancerous, you will need treatment.

Medications. If you have hypothyroidism, thyroid hormone replacement with levothyroxine (Levothroid, Synthroid) will resolve the symptoms of hypothyroidism as well as slow the release of thyroid-stimulating hormone from your pituitary gland, often decreasing the size of the goiter. For an inflammation of your thyroid gland, your doctor may suggest aspirin or a corticosteroid medication to treat the inflammation. For goiters associated with hyperthyroidism, you may need medications to normalize hormone levels.


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