Your thyroid plays a major role in regulating your metabolism and many additional aspects of your health including your heart rate, body temperature, and your blood pressure.
There are a number of thyroid problems that can compromise the normal functioning of the thyroid gland.
A goitre occurs when the thyroid gland enlarges, often causing a noticeable lump in the front of the neck area.
Common symptoms of a goitre include:
- Thyroid lumps in neck
- Sensation of a lump in the throat
- Difficulty drinking, eating or speaking
- Metabolism problems (when goitre causes under- or over-active thyroid hormone production)
- Breathing problems
- Dizziness when arms are raised above the head
- Neck vein distention
There are different types of goitres. In many cases, the thyroid gland becomes enlarged when it is unable to produce sufficient amount of thyroid hormones to meet the demands of the body. The gland enlarges in order to make up for this discrepancy so that enough thyroid hormones may be produced. Thyroid gland disorders of this nature are known as simple goitres.
Endemic goitres occur when large groups of people who live in the same geographical area develop thyroid problems due to insufficient iodine in the soil. This leads to iodine deficiencies that cause goitres.
In some cases, goitres are caused by hereditary factors. Increased risk factors include individuals over the age of 40 and a family history of this medical condition. Women are also more susceptible to developing goitres. In addition, insufficient dietary intake of iodine increases the risk of developing this problem.
Fortunately, most goitres are not cancerous, and can often be treated with medications that are designed to replace the thyroid hormone. Some patients require surgery if the goitre is found to be malignant, or if significant overactive or underactive thyroid disorder is occurring.