Goiter: Risk Factors, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment


A goiter is an abnormal enlargement of the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped endocrine gland which is located in the lower front of the neck. The thyroid gland can make thyroid hormones which can help the body use energy, stay warm and keep the brain, heart, muscles, and other organs working as usual. Generally, goiters are painless, while large ones can lead to symptoms that may influence your normal life, such as coughing or difficuly breathing or swallowing.

Goiter is more common in women than in men, especially in women before menopause. About 200 million people have goiter because of iodine deficiency, even if it is almost disappeared in America because of adequate iodine intake.

Cause & Risk Factors

Some causes of goiter include:

Other factors may increase the risk of getting goiter, including:


Not all goiters have symptoms. If the symptoms occur, they may include:

  • Feel tight in the throat
  • Feel or see a bump at the base of the neck
  • Coughing
  • Hoarseness
  • Difficuly swallowing
  • Difficulty breathing

Sometimes goiter may be caused by other diseases. The symptoms may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Constipation
  • Nervousness
  • Irritability
  • Increased sweating
  • Increased appetite
  • Weight loss or gain for no reason
  • Forgetfulness
  • Hair loss


To diagnose goiter, your doctor will ask your medical history and family history, then the doctor will check your symptoms and order some tests, including:


Depending on the size, cause and symptoms of your goiter, doctors may recommend different treatment options, including:

  • Observation and regular inspection: This is for small goiters that cause no problems on your daily life.
  • Medications: If your goiter is caused by some diseases, such as hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, your doctors may give you some medications. For example, levothyroxine for hypothyroidism, methimazole or propylthiouracil for hyperthyroidism. Sometimes beta blockers may also be used, including propranolol, atenolol, metoprolol and nadolol.
  • Surgery: If your goiter is so large that you cannot breathe or swallow as usual, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove all of or part of the thyroid gland (thyroidectomy or subtotal thyroidectomy). This can prevent thyroid cancer, but you also cannot produce the thyroid hormone to meet your body’s need after the procedure. You may have to take thyroid hormone medications for life.

Please consult your doctors for your treatment.

Keywords: goiter; thyroid gland.

Related Posts:

What is Multinodular Goiter?

Hypothyroidism: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

Radioactive Iodine Uptake (RAIU) test: Reference Range

Iodine – What is it & How to use

Thyroid Nodules: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment

Thyroid Cancer: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment

* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.