Dr. Amer Hyder. ENT Specialist.
The thyroid is a small butterfly shaped gland in the neck, just in front of the windpipe. It produces thyroid hormones, which help regulate the body’s metabolism.
A simple goiter is an enlargement of the thyroid gland. It is usually not cancer. Iodine deficiency is a common nutritional problem affecting a large number of people especially living in the mountainous regions of Pakistan, although it is also seen in the plains. Some 50 million people are clinically affected with iodine deficiency in Pakistan, while prevalence of goiter ranges from 55% to as high as 80-90% in the plain and hilly areas.
Q. What is Goiter ?
Ans: Enlargement of thyroid gland is called goiter, it appears as a swelling in front of neck. Swelling may be small or very huge causing much discomfort and cosmetic deformity.
Q. What are the common causes of Goiter?
Ans: Most common cause of goiter is iodine deficiency in endemic areas mostly people of mountainous areas are at risk for iodine deficiency and development of goiter. Selenium deficiency can also cause goiter. Selenium and iodine are two minerals required to make thyroid hormones, iodine is found in seafood, dairy products, and some fruits like strawberries.
Q. What are the symptoms?
Ans: . Goiter can produce symptoms of either hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. It appears as swelling on neck, which is not tender. There is difficulty in swallowing, and speech problem due to pressure on larynx. The symptoms of a goiter include: swelling at the front side of the base of the neck, ranging from a small lump to a general enlargement. If you have hyperthyroidism symptoms may also include weight loss despite an increased appetite, an increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, nervousness, diarrhea, muscle weakness, and hand tremors.
Q. How is goiter diagnosed?
Large swelling in front of neck is seen with symptoms of either hypo or hyperthyroidism. Measurement of thyroid hormones and thyroid scan help in diagnosis.
Q. How is goiter treated?
Blood tests may be ordered to measure thyroid function: Free thyroxin T4 Thyroid stimulating hormone . TSH. Tests to look for abnormal and possibly cancerous areas in the thyroid gland include: Thyroid scan and ultra sound of the thyroid. If nodules are found on an ultrasound, a biopsy may be needed to check for thyroid cancer. In many cases, simple goiters will resolve spontaneously. Unless goiter symptoms are problematic, goiter generally does not require treatment. In cases of goiter caused by iodine deficiency, iodine supplements may provide adequate treatment. If goiter symptoms are more serious, however, medical treatment may be required.
Q. What are the complications of goiter?
Complications of simple goiter are generally not life threatening, though in rare cases goiter may press on the windpipe, preventing breathing. As goiter affects the production of thyroid hormones, which are important to many aspects of metabolism, serious complications can develop if the disease goes untreated for long periods of time. You can help minimize your risk of serious complications by following the treatment plan recommended by your doctor. Complications of goiter include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Difficulty swallowing
- Hyperthyroidism and Hypothyroidism.
you must make sure that you get an adequate amount of iodine; use iodized salt and consume plenty of foods that are a rich source of iodine. Excellent food sources are: sea food, kelp, shrimp, shell fish, tomatoes, strawberries, celery and oats. This diet helps in controlling the size of the goiter.