Thyroid Goiter

Thyroid Goiter

Thyroid goiter is the abnormal enlagement of the thyroid gland.  Thyroid goiter may be associated with  either over or under production of thyroid hormone.  Although goiters are usually painless, a large goiter can cause a cough and make it difficult for you to swallow or breathe.  It may eventually cause damage to the tracheal cartilages.

The most common cause of goiter worldwide is a lack of iodine in the diet. Although, in the United States, where most people use iodized salt, goiter is more often due to the over- or underproduction of thyroid hormones or to nodules that develop in the gland itself.

Not all goiters cause signs and symptoms. When symptoms do occur they may include:

  • A visible swelling at the base of your neck that may be particularly obvious when you shave or put on makeup
  • A tight feeling in your throat
  • Coughing
  • Hoarseness
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Difficulty breathing

If you experience any signs or symptoms that worry you, make an appointment with your doctor.   Your doctor may discover an enlarged thyroid gland simply by feeling your neck and having you swallow during a routine physical exam. In some cases, your doctor may also be able to feel the presence of nodules.

If a patient is symptomatic thyroid surgery may be indicated.  Total thyroidectomy is usually the operation of choice.  Occasionally the goiter may extend substernally but this can usually still be removed through a neck incision.

University Surgeons Associates

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