A goiter is an abnormal swelling of your thyroid gland, which can leave you with uncomfortable symptoms. Goiters affect almost 5% of the American population, commonly caused by an iodine deficiency, the overproduction or underproduction of your thyroid hormones, and inflammation.
In some cases, this thyroid disorder can go away on its own after a short period of time without any treatment. But if you have a more severe condition, you should seek medical attention.
Symptoms of a goiter
A goiter can have many symptoms, but the main ones include:
- Swelling just below your Adam’s apple in the front of your neck
- Tightness in your throat
- Scratchy throat
- Swollen veins in your neck
- Dizziness when lifting your arms above your head
You might also have difficulty with your breathing, have trouble swallowing, and find yourself coughing and wheezing frequently.
Diagnosing a goiter
We may use several different methods to determine if you have a goiter, including:
- A physical exam to feel for nodules
- Hormone testing to measure your levels
- Antibody testing to detect autoimmune thyroid disease
- An ultrasound of your thyroid to see the gland’s size and find nodules
- A CT scan or MRI to measure the goiter’s size and spread
Once you’re diagnosed with a goiter, we at Wyoming Medical Associates customize a treatment plan for you.
Treatment options for your goiter
The size, cause, and symptoms determine how we treat your goiter. If you have a small goiter without symptoms, we monitor your condition annually, making sure it doesn’t grow and that your thyroid continues to function efficiently.
If we notice any changes, we offer different treatments that include:
Your thyroid gland makes hormones that affect how your body uses energy. To produce the hormone, your body needs iodine. Your thyroid becomes underactive when you have a lack of iodine in your diet, which can cause a goiter. In this case, we treat you with thyroid hormone replacement therapy.
If you have an overactive thyroid, we prescribe other medication to lower the hormone production made by your thyroid gland
If your goiter is caused by inflammation, we may prescribe aspirin or a steroid.
Radioactive iodine therapy
If you have an overactive thyroid, this therapy involves taking radioactive iodine pills to eliminate the overproduction of thyroid cells.
If your goiter is large and causing problems with your breathing and swallowing, we perform surgery to remove all or part of your thyroid gland or to remove nodules.
During your consultation, we work with you to decide on the best solution that gives you the most successful outcome.