Every fourth week of January, we celebrate the Goiter Awareness Week to provide information about this condition to the public.
Goiter is a disease characterized by a swelling in the neck due to an enlarged thyroid gland. It is usually caused by iodine deficiency.
What are the symptoms?
- Swelling at the base of the neck
- A tight feeling in the throat
- Frequent coughing
- Trouble breathing
- Trouble swallowing
- Neck vein swelling
What are the causes?
Aside from iodine deficiency, goiter can also be caused by the following:
- Grave’s disease
In Grave’s disease, your immune system mistakenly attacks the thyroid gland causing it to produce too much hormones and swell.
- Thyroid cancer
Cancer of the thyroid gland can enlarge the organ.
Thyroiditis causes inflammation of the thyroid gland, making it appear larger than usual.
Women produce hormones during pregnancy that can potentially cause their thyroid gland to grow.
Excessive consumption of tobacco interferes with iodine absorption.
Who are at risk?
You have a higher risk of developing goiter if you:
- Are a woman
- Are older than 40
- Are pregnant or going through menopause
- Smoke cigarettes
- Have a family history of autoimmune disease
What are the possible treatments for goiter?
Before you get treated, you have to undergo a diagnosis first to uncover any underlying problems with your thyroid function. Some of these tests are Thyroid Stimulating Hormone-IRMA , Triiodothyronine , Thyroxine, and Thyroid Scan, to be determined by your doctor.
Treatment for goiter depends on its size and causes. Medications include aspirin or corticosteroid for the inflammation of your thyroid gland. If you have hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid), you may need to take Levothroid or Synthroid (levothyroxine) to replace the hormones you’re lacking. For hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) patients, you have to take drugs to bring your thyroid hormones back to normal.
If your goiter is large, surgery or radioactive iodine is recommended to shrink its size.
How to prevent it?
- Get enough iodine
Iodized salt and seafood or seaweed are great sources of iodine. You may include them in your meal for at least twice a week. Your iodine consumption must be about 150 micrograms a day. But adequate amounts are recommended for pregnant and lactating women.
- Avoid too much iodine consumption
If you are diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, you have to limit your intake of food such as iodine-fortified salt, shellfish, seaweed, and iodine supplements.