A goiter is an enlarged thyroid gland. In the early stages, a goiter may only be able to be detected by a doctor exam. But they become more obvious as they grow, causing the neck to bulge or swell.
There are many potential causes of goiter growth, including:
- Thyroid nodules
- Graves’ disease
- Hashimoto’s thyroiditis – the most common cause of goiter in the U.S.
- Lack of iodine in the diet – one of the least common causes of goiter in the U.S.
Thyroid goiters are more common in women than men, and are more common after age 40. Some women develop goiters during pregnancy because of the human chorionic gonadotropin hormone, which can cause the thyroid to enlarge. Also, some heart and psychiatric medications may cause goiters to form.
Patient story: from Alaska for care
As Lonnie Lamoreaux carried on with life in Anchorage, Alaska, it became more difficult to hold conversations without wheezing or coughing. His hometown doctor said there nothing could be done there.
What are the symptoms of thyroid goiters?
Small thyroid goiters typically cause few to no symptoms. Larger, more advanced goiters can cause symptoms such as:
- A lump in the neck
- Difficulty breathing
- Difficulty swallowing
- Hoarse throat
- The sensation that something is stuck in the throat
- Voice changes
Your doctor may recommend thyroid surgery if the goiter causes breathing problems, pressure on the esophagus, or hyperthyroidism, including Graves’ disease. Surgery usually is successful at curing goiter symptoms. Meet our surgery team.