A goitre is often also called a goiter and can be embarrassing and uncomfortable for those who have it. It is a swelling of the thyroid gland, which often leads to noticeable growth around the neck and vocal box. In the vast majority of cases, a goitre is caused by iodine deficiency. Thus, the condition is most prevalent in countries that do not use iodized salt. In the United States, the incidence rate is much lower though not completely absent. However, there are a handful of other conditions that will also result in goitres, such as thyroid cancer, congenital hypothyroidism, and even adverse drug reactions.
Depending upon the cause of a patient’s goitre, treatment paths will be different. For goitres caused by iodine deficiency, the treatment is simple. The patient is given Lugol’s iodine or a KI solution. Of course, if the problem is caused by another disease, then the treatment is generally more elaborate. For example, in countries with iodine salt, most of the goitre cases are caused by a condition known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. In those cases, patients may undergo thyroid hormone replacement. Other potential treatment options include a partial or complete thyroidectomy.
Of course, a goitre only needs to be treated if the enlargement of the thyroid is causing symptoms. Once it does, however, it is important to get it treated. For instance, in iodine deficiency goitres, the prognosis is good, except if the condition has been left untreated for five years or so. Then, the increased swelling may in fact be permanent. Plus, if you live in a country with iodine salt, and you have a goitre, it is most likely a symptom of a more serious condition, so you should visit your doctor immediately.
If you have concerns about thyroid symptoms or a goitre see your local doctor who will arrange for you to see your thyroid surgeon.