What Do You Mean By Goiter? What Are The Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

What Is Goiter?

Goiter is distinguished by the enlargement of the thyroid gland. It is not a general disease nowadays because of the usage of iodized salt. The cause of goiter involves iodine deficiency, Grave’s disease, and Hashimoto’s disease. In this condition, the thyroid gland grows large from its actual size. The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland present under Adam’s apple. Usually, the goiter does not produce any signs and symptoms, sometimes cause trouble in breathing and swallowing. When the number of nodules gets raised, there is an increased secretion of the thyroid hormone that impairs digestion, development of the brain, and heart and muscle function.

What Causes Goiter?

Goiter has distinctive causes, depending on their types.

  • Simple goiters occur when the thyroid gland does not make enough hormones to meet the body’s needs. The thyroid gland tries to make up for this deficiency by growing larger.
  • Endemic goiters happen in people in certain parts of the world who do not get enough iodine in their diet. For instance, a  deficiency of iodine in the diet is still a common problem in parts of central Asia and central Africa. Because iodine is combined to table salt in the united states and other countries, this type of goiter usually does not happen in these countries.
  • Sporadic goiters, in most cases, have no recognized cause. In some cases, some drugs can cause this type of goiter. For instance, the drug lithium, which is applied to treat certain mental health conditions, other medical conditions, causes this type of goiter.

Other disease and condition can also cause a goiter which adds:

  • Graves’ disease: Graves’ disease is an autoimmune condition. In this case, the immune system attacks the thyroid gland and the thyroid becomes larger.
  • Hashimoto’s disease: This is also an autoimmune disease. In this case, the disease causes swelling of the thyroid gland. This causes it to assemble fewer thyroid hormones, resulting in a goiter. This type of goiter ordinarily gets better on its own over time.
  • Nodular goiter: In this condition, growths called nodules to happen on or both sides of the thyroid gland, causing it to become larger.
  • Thyroid cancer: Cancer of the thyroid gland usually enlarges the thyroid.
  • Pregnancy: Human chorionic gonadotropin, a hormone that a woman begins during pregnancy, can cause the thyroid to grow.
  • Thyroiditis: Inflammation of the thyroid gland itself can cause the thyroid gland to develop. This can happen after the person has an illness caused by a virus, or after a woman delivers birth.
  • Exposure to radiation: A person who has had medical radiation treatments to the head and neck has a greater prospect of developing goiter.


The main symptoms of goiter involve:

  • Swelling in the front of the neck, just beneath the Adam’s apple
  • The feeling of tightness in the throat section
  • Hoarseness
  • Neck vein swelling
  • Dizziness when the arms are elevated above the head

Other less common symptoms involve:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing due to the squeezing of the windpipe
  • Difficulty swallowing due to squeezing of the esophagus, or food tube

Those people who have goiter may also have hyperthyroidism or overactive thyroid. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism involve:

  • An increase resting pulse rate
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting
  • Shaking
  • Agitation
  • Sweating without exercise

Some people with goiter may also have hypothyroidism or underactive thyroid. Symptoms of hypothyroidism can involve:

  • Fatigue
  • Constipation
  • Dry skin
  • Weight gain
  • Menstrual irregularities

How Is Goiter Treated?

Your doctor will determine a course of treatment based on the size and condition of your goiter, and symptoms associated with it. Treatment is also dependent on health problems that contribute to the goiter. Treatments involve:

Watchful waiting

If the goiter is small and is not disturbing you, your doctor may decide that it does not need to be treated. However, the goiter will be strictly watched for any changes.


Levothyroxine is one of the thyroid hormone replacement therapy. It is ordered if the cause of the goiter is an underactive thyroid. Other medications are ordered if the cause of the goiter is an overactive thyroid. These drugs are methimazole and propylthioracil. The doctor might order aspirin if a goiter is caused by inflammation.

Radioactive iodine treatment

This treatment, used in the case of an overactive thyroid gland, includes taking radioactive iodine orally. The iodine goes to the thyroid gland and destroys thyroid cells, which shrinks the gland. After radioactive iodine treatment, the patient normally has to take thyroid hormone replacement therapy for the rest of his or her life.


Surgery is performed to eliminate all or part of the thyroid gland. Surgery may be required if the goiter is large and causes problems with breathing and swallowing. Surgery must be taken if cancer is present.

Last Updated on July 28, 2023 by john liam