Goiter is a term used to describe an enlarged thyroid gland. There are many potential causes or goiter growth, including:
- Thyroid nodules
- Diseases such as Graves' disease
Outside of the United States, the most common cause of goiter is lack of iodine in peoples’ diets. Since, iodine is added to salt in the U.S., this is often not the cause here.
In early growth stages goiters may be evident only on physical examination by a doctor. As they enlarge goiters may become more obvious, causing the neck to bulge or swell. Symptoms may include difficulty swallowing, difficulty breathing or voice changes. Some goiters may need to be surgically removed, due to the following:
- Breathing problemsThyroid Goiter Large
- Pressure on the esophagus leading to difficulty swallowing, a sensation of something stuck in the throat
- Unattractive neck lump
- Hyperthyroidism (as in Graves’ disease)
Surgery is usually very successful at curing the symptoms caused by a goiter.