What Causes an Enlarged Thyroid Gland (Goiter)?

Goiter is an enlargement of the thyroid gland, which is located in the front of the neck, just below the Adam's apple. It can be a general enlargement of the entire thyroid or it can be caused by irregular cell growth that forms one or more lumps (nodules) in the thyroid. Goiter may be associated with an absence of changes in thyroid function or with an increase or decrease in thyroid hormones. Swelling in the neck due to an enlarged thyroid gland is called a goiter.

Nodules are lumps in the thyroid gland. Most are harmless, but you should make an appointment with your doctor as soon as you find a lump or swelling. It's important to know that the presence of goiter doesn't necessarily mean that the thyroid gland is malfunctioning. Goiter can occur in a gland that produces too much hormone (hyperthyroidism), too little hormone (hypothyroidism), or the right amount of hormone (euthyroidism). A goiter indicates that a condition is present that causes the thyroid to grow abnormally.

Thyroid function tests are blood tests that measure levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and thyroxine. Thyroid problems often run in families and, if family members are unwell, they should be encouraged to talk to their own family doctor if thyroid testing is warranted. If the goiter is due to Hashimoto's thyroiditis and you have hypothyroidism, you will be given a thyroid hormone supplement in the form of a daily pill. This treatment will restore thyroid hormone levels to normal, but it usually doesn't make the goiter go away completely. They don't involve inflammation or harm to thyroid function, they don't produce symptoms, and often have no obvious cause. Learn more about the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of thyroid eye disease and how the risks are higher in smokers.

Read how psychological symptoms can accompany thyroid disorders and possible treatment and management options. I am going to do the Cardiff Half Marathon to raise awareness of hypothyroidism and raise funds for the British Thyroid Foundation.

Greta Rulnick
Greta Rulnick

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