How To Treat Goitre?

Overview | Types | Symptoms | Causes | Risks factors | Complications | Diagnosis | Treatment |

Possibly, we all have heard the word ‘goitre’, but do we know about it? Here, we will tell you all you need to know about this health condition called goitre.

What is the goitre?

Goitre is a health condition, which involves enlargement of the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is a small butterfly-shaped gland that is located just below Adam’s apple and in front of the neck’s windpipe. The thyroid gland produces essential hormones which help to regulate the metabolism of our body with several other functions, such as body temperature, pulse rate, digestion etc.

Goitre can develop in anyone, but women are more likely to get this. Goitre is usually painless but can affect the function of the thyroid, and can cause trouble for you while breathing and swallowing the food.

Goitre is looked like a lump in front of the neck, it can move up and down while swallowing the food.

Fact: Goitre is a common health condition in India, with about 1 million cases found per year.

Types of Goitre:

There are many types of goitre based on its cause. The types of goitre are as follows—

  • Colloid goitre – This type of goitre is caused due to lack of iodine. A sufficient amount of iodine is very important for the proper function of the ng of the thyroid gland.
  • Toxic nodular or multinodular goitre – In this, the goitre develops one or more nodules with its enlargement. These nodules can cause hyperthyroidism by producing thyroid hormones on one own. It generally forms as an extension of simple goitre.
  • Non – toxic goitre (Sporadic): Non – toxic goitres are natural. The actual cause of its production (used in mood disorders like bipolar etc.) is also considered as a cause of this type of goitre production.

Symptoms of goitre:

The prominent and common symptoms of goitre are –

  • Swelling just below Adam’s apple and in front of the neck.
  • Swelling in the veins of the neck
  • A feeling of tightness in the throat area
  • Dizziness, especially when your raise your arms above the head
  • Scratchy voice (hoarseness)

Less common symptoms are –

  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty in swallowing the food, due to squeezing of the food pipe
  • Wheezing
  • Coughing

Sometimes, people who have hyperthyroidism develop goitre. Then, they can experience the symptoms, such as –

  • Rapid heart rate
  • An increased resting pulse rate
  • Diarrhoea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Shaking
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Sweating
  • Unintended weight gain or weight loss
  • Agitation

Some people with hypothyroidism or underactive thyroid also develop goitre. Such type of condition can make you feel like –

  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Constipation
  • Weight loss or gain, unintentionally
  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Dry skin

Causes of goitre:

You must know that having a goitre doesn’t mean that your thyroid gland is not working at all. The thyroid gland can still secrete the essential hormones in the body. But yes, the presence of goitre can make the thyroid gland secrete too much or too little of the essential hormones like thyroxine and T3 hormones. Some of the known causes of goitre production is as follows:

  • Iodine deficiency (the most common cause)
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Multinodular goitre
  • Solitary thyroid nodules
  • Inflammation
  • Pregnancy
  • Hashimoto’s disease
  • Grave’s disease
  • Less production of hormones by the thyroid gland
  • Gender (women are at more risk of getting goitre than men)
  • Age ( people over 40 years of age is more likely to develop goitre)
  • Hereditary
  • Radiation exposure etc.

Risks factors of goitre:

Goitre can be developed by anyone, it can be present at birth or can occur anytime, throughout life. Some common risk factors include –

  • Lack of iodine in one’s diet: People who lack iodine in their diet, due to any condition, are at high risk of developing goitre re.
  • Family history: You can develop goitre more likely if you have any family history of autoimmune diseases.
  • Medical history: If you are suffering from an autoimmune disease or you had any autoimmune disease in past, then it can lead to developing goitre.
  • Gender: Women are at high risk to develop thyroid disorders, hence goitre also (as goitre is related to dysfunction of the thyroid).
  • Your age: Your chances of development of goitre increase automatically if you are at the age of 40 or above.
  • Pregnancy: Pregnancy increases the chances of women developing thyroid disorders, so is goitre.
  • Radiation exposure: Radiation exposure due to any type of treatment, such as radiation treatment of neck or chest area, accident, test etc. Can increase the risk of getting goitre.
  • Certain medications: Some medical treatment and medications can produce the risk of development of goitre, such as psychiatric drug, etc.
  • Menopause: Menopause due to some unknown condition, increases the risk of goitre formation.

Diagnosis of goitre:

Your doctor can conduct some tests to diagnose the goitre, such as—

  • Physical examination – Diagnosis always starts with the physical examination. By feeling the neck area and considering your symptoms, your doctor can tell you, if you are having goitre or not.
  • Hormone test – This test can check the level of your hormones secreted by the thyroid gland, which can tell you if your thyroid gland is working or not.
  • Thyroid scan: Through this imaging test, your doctor can tell you about the size and function of the thyroid gland. In this, a small piece of radioactive material is placed into a vein to get the image of the thyroid.

Some other tests are –

  • Antibody test
  • An ultrasound test of the thyroid
  • MRI scan
  • CT scan etc.

Treatment of goitre:

Mostly, those people who have very small shaped goitre don’t feel the need to treat it, as it is painless. In this condition still, one should go for a diagnosis at least to make sure the goitre production is not related to any underlay health problem and it is not harmful at all. After that, a close watch is needed to keep the goitre under control and treat it on time, if needed.

The treatment of goitre broadly depends on —

  • Enlargement of the thyroid gland
  • Cause of your goitre production
  • Symptoms you have

Treatment options of goitre include:

  • Medications
  • Radioactive iodine treatment
  • Biopsy
  • Surgery etc.

Prevention tips:

  • Consume a sufficient amount of iodine
  • Avoid any condition or habit which can result in a Thyroid problem.
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