Goiter – The silent killer! The symptoms and how can you avoid it

Goiter thyroid is an enlarged thyroid gland. It can develop in people of any age and can affect both men and women. It’s also known as an iodine deficiency.

Everyone knows that when you’re getting older, your body begins to show signs of wear and tear. You experience more frequent colds, your immune system suffers from chronic fatigue, and your cholesterol levels tend to go down.

This article explains what goiter is, its causes, its symptoms, how to avoid it and how to treat it. Read on to find out more.

Goiter

A goiter is a large, usually thyroid-secreting, organ found in the neck and upper chest region. It’s usually associated with an overactive thyroid gland and is usually “bigger” in people with increased Thyroid hormone (i.e. an overactive thyroid).

It is a Hidden Mass – a swollen thyroid gland. It’s usually found in people of Jewish descent, but it can also affect people of any race and religion.

In other words, not everyone who’s got this disease is bad news.

 

What are the Different Types?

There are 2 types: primary and secondary.
The main difference between the 2 is that a primary goiter is a congenital condition while a secondary goiter occurs as a result of some kind of illness or injury. In either case, the overactive thyroid gland is the source of the swollen thyroid.

They can be further classified into many other types but the most common type is called “hairy”, or platy-plural.

It is often a result of an increased number of circulating T-cells (a type of white blood cell) in response to an infection. It is rare in children, but can occur in adults as well.

This type of goiter occurs in people with an autoimmune condition such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or follicular lymphoma. It may also occur in people with a hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) due to genetic mutations.

Causes

The main cause is an underactive thyroid gland. When the thyroid gland is underactive, it’s more likely to become enlarged which, over time, results in a goiter.

 

The main things that can cause a goiter include:

  • Age: Young people tend to have larger goiters than people who are older. As we grow older, our bodies produce less hormone to regulate our body temperature, which can lead to a goiter.
  • Genes: Some people are born with a small thyroid and are destined to have a small goiter. Other people develop a goiter as a result of an inherited condition, such as enlarged thyroid glands due to a condition called “primary hypothyroidism”.
  • Infections: Some infections, such as a bacterial infection of the thyroid, cause an expansion of the thyroid gland.
  • Yawning: When the mouth is dry, it produces less saliva, which can lead to a swollen thyroid gland.
  • Hormones: Different glands in your body produce different hormones that regulate body functions. For example, the thyroid gland produces hormones that control your body’s temperature, appetite, heartbeat and more.
  • Medical Conditions: Some medical conditions, such as Addison’s disease and Cushing’s disease, also can cause a goiter.
But there are other causes as well some related to diet, some to medication, and some to the environment.
Some environmental causes include: –
  1. Caffeine 
  2. Sugar 
  3. Metalloid (i.e. nickel, lead, chromium, vanadium, etc.)
  4. Sumatran coffee 
  5. Toxins from food like strawberries, blueberries, and camembert
  6. Artificial preservatives in food like sodium benzoate, potassium iodide, and glucose. 
  7. Pollution.

What Are the Symptoms of a Thyroid Problem?

The main symptom of a thyroid problem is a high-pitched voice.

In reality, this is often accompanied by a number of different symptoms, including: 

  • Fatigue: feeling of constant tiredness or weakness and can be physical, mental or a combination of both.

  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Confusion 
  • Headaches
  • Dry skin
  • Easy weight gain
  • Tics (e.g. chewing, hand movements) 
  • Tumors (e.g. thyroid, brain, stomach) 
  • Nodules (i.e. nodules of unknown cause)
  • Paraganglion (i.e. blood vessels under the skin)
  • Swelling 
  • Weight loss
  • Decreased interest or motivation in normal activities –
  • Sleep disorders (e.g. insomnia)

What Are the Symptoms of a Goiter?

The main symptoms big, swollen gland(s) under the skin.

goiter

You should examine yourself carefully for swelling under the skin, some people don’t feel it and others can feel it even when nothing is wrong.

The following are some of the other symptoms

When you’re older, you often get “gas in your teeth”. Teeth turn out too yellow due to the metabolic effects of the thyroid hormone.
  • You might also experience a “frog’s leg” look to your skin.
  • The voice can sound high-pitched and squeaky.
  • You should be careful while driving because you could swivel your head around and hit the steering wheel with your chin. You should avoid drinking grapefruit juice because it could cause a goiter.
  • And last but not least, your vision will become blurred or spotty.
Just because you think you have a goiter, doesn’t mean that you do. In fact, the only way to know for sure is to get an accurate medical examination.

 

Diagnosis

If you think you have a goiter, you should firstly get a full medical check-up.
It can be difficult to detect, so it’s important to get it checked out by a doctor. Your doctor will take a number of factors into consideration when diagnosing a goiter.

These may include: 

  • The patient’s weight: A larger person’s thyroid will often be larger than a smaller person’s. 
  • The goiter’s size: A goiter that is too large to be considered a “normal” goiter will usually be detected through a lab test. 
  • The patient’s age: As we get older, our bodies produce less thyroid hormone, which can result in a goiter.
  • The cause of the goiter: If the cause is unknown, a goiter can be detected through blood tests.
The key to diagnosing and treating a goiter is to rule out other causes of enlarged thyroid glands.

Any of the following could be the cause:

Chronic medical conditions such as anemia, an under active thyroid gland, Addison’s disease, Pituitary tumors, Glandular disorders, Addison’s disease, Ankylosing spondylitis, Lupus, Chronic hepatitis (especially in the presence of an abnormal liver test), Thyroiditis, Actinomycin, Metoclopramide and other anti-anxiety medications.

Complications

You are more likely to develop complications from a goiter if you: Have a family history of goiter.

Some complications Are:

  1. Underweight or overweight.
Free High angle of crop anonymous female measuring weight for control body against white background in studio Stock Photo

   

   2. Underlying heart disease.

   3. Struggle with anxiety or stress: Sometimes you feel isolated or different to others.

 

 

Treatments.

Your doctor will likely recommend a combination of medications and dietary changes in order to treat a goiter.
Some of the medications your doctor might recommend for treating a goiter include: 
  • A thyroid medication: Levothyroxine (T4) and T3 are the most common types of thyroid medication. They are prescribed to treat conditions such as a small thyroid gland (less than 2 grams) or hyperthyroidism (2 or more grams).
  • A calcineurin inhibitor: These are sometimes recommended for treating primary hypothyroidism, but can also be used for other conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or massive inflammation.
  • An ant-thyroid drug: Although they aren’t typically prescribed on a regular basis, ant-thyroid drugs are sometimes used in the treatment of goiters. These drugs include propylthiouracil (PTU), methotrexate (MTX).
  • A thiopurine: Thiopurines are anti-inflammatory drugs that can also be used to treat autoimmune diseases such as lupus.
  • A medication to block TSH receptors: TSH Receptors are protein receptors located in the thyroid gland that are responsible for controlling your body’s temperature and levels of hormones.

 

Tips for Living with a Goiter
These are a few things you can do to manage and prevent complications.
  • Get your weight check regularly. It is important to maintain a healthy body weight because your body needs protein in order to function properly.
  • Maintain a healthy diet. Carbohydrates are the main source of energy for your body and are found in the form of glucose. Your body also needs protein in order to rebuild and function properly.
  • Avoid caffeine. There are many effects of Caffeine in human body. It can cause a rise in blood pressure, increased heart rate and a increased risk of developing heart disease.
  • Be gentle with your thyroid. You do not want to over-rock it with medication, but you also do not want to under-load it either.
  • Take your thyroid meds during the day. At night, you shouldn’t worry about taking your meds as prescribed; you are simply too tired to monitor your dose.

 

Conclusion

If you have a goiter, you need to know what to do about it. There are many ways to treat a goiter, but the most important thing is to make sure you know what is causing it!
The symptoms of a goiter can be difficult to detect, especially if it’s small and hidden away in the neck. But if detected early, they can be treated successfully with medication.
The side effects of medications can outweigh the benefits, so it’s important to talk to your doctor about how you want to tackle your goiter.
If your goiter is small and easy to miss, it is possible to manage it successfully without medication. However, if you want to treat it, the best approach is to find out what is causing it and then tackle it head-on.
Remember: The sooner you find out what is causing your goiter, the better off you will be.
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