What Does An Enlarged Thyroid Gland Mean – A goiter occurs when your thyroid gland becomes enlarged. There are several causes and may or may not be related to abnormal thyroid hormone levels. It is manageable.
An image of the thyroid gland wrapped around the windpipe in a person’s neck showing a normal thyroid size and an enlarged size (goiter).
What Does An Enlarged Thyroid Gland Mean
A goiter is a condition in which your thyroid gland becomes enlarged. Your entire thyroid gland may become enlarged or you may develop one or more small tumors called nodules.
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Your thyroid is a small butterfly-shaped endocrine gland located in your neck, below the Adam’s apple. It makes the hormones thyroxine (also known as T4) and triiodothyronine (also known as T3). These hormones play a role in certain bodily functions, including:
Goiter can be related to abnormal levels of thyroid hormone in the body (hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism) or to normal thyroid hormone levels (parathyroidism).
A goiter can be classified in a number of different ways, including how it grows and whether your thyroid hormone levels are abnormal.
Healthcare providers combine these descriptions to classify specific types of goiter when diagnosing them. For example, toxic multinodular goiter occurs when more than one nodule on your thyroid—usually several—is producing an excess of thyroid hormone.
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Anyone can get a goiter, but it is about four times more likely to develop in people who are designated female at birth than in those who are designated as male at birth. Your risk of developing a goiter also increases as you get older. They are more common after age 40.
You are also more likely to develop a goiter if your head and neck have been exposed to radiation for medical treatment and/or if you have a family history of thyroid disease.
The size of a goiter can range from very small to barely noticeable to very large. Most goiters are painless, but if you have thyroiditis (inflamed thyroid gland), it can be painful.
A goiter is an adaptive response of cells in your thyroid gland to any process that interferes with thyroid hormone production. Although iodine deficiency is the most common cause of goiter worldwide, many conditions can cause it.
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In most cases, occasional goiter has no cause. In some cases, certain medications can cause this type of goiter. For example, the drug lithium, which is used to treat certain mental health conditions, as well as other medical conditions, can cause this type of goiter.
Your healthcare provider usually diagnoses a goiter when they do a physical exam and feel that you have an enlarged thyroid gland. However, the presence of a goiter indicates a problem with your thyroid gland. They need to figure out what the problem is.
A simple goiter may be present for only a short time and may resolve on its own without treatment.
Many goiters, such as multinodular goiter, are associated with normal thyroid hormone levels. These goiters usually do not require special treatment once diagnosed by a healthcare provider. However, you may be at risk of developing hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism in the future.
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If you have an enlarged thyroid, it’s important to see your health care provider because goiters can have a number of causes—some of which require treatment.
Treatment for a goiter depends on the size of your thyroid gland, its symptoms, and what’s causing it. Treatment includes:
Iodine-deficiency goiter (simple goiter) is often the only type of goiter you can prevent. Eating a diet that includes fish, dairy, and a healthy amount of iodized salt will prevent these types of goiter. Iodine and other supplements are generally not recommended and can do more harm than good.
Simple goiter has a good prognosis. If your thyroid continues to enlarge, it can press on surrounding structures and can cause difficulty breathing, swallowing, and hoarseness.
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If a goiter is a symptom of another thyroid disease such as Graves’ disease or Hashimoto’s disease, the prognosis depends on the underlying cause of the thyroid enlargement.
Regardless of the cause, it’s important to see your health care provider regularly (at least annually) if you’re diagnosed with a goiter so they can monitor it.
Your thyroid is an important gland in the endocrine system that affects many aspects of your body. If it becomes larger, it could be a sign of underlying thyroid disease. The good news is that goiter is treatable and sometimes goes away on its own. If you notice a lump on the front of your neck, talk to your healthcare provider. They can determine if it’s a goiter and the underlying cause.
The Cleveland Clinic is a not-for-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our website helps support our mission. We do not endorse products or services that are not from the Cleveland Clinic. The Thyroiditis Policy represents a group of conditions that cause inflammation of your thyroid gland. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is the most common type. Some cases of thyroiditis are temporary while others cause permanent hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid). It is manageable.
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Thyroiditis is an inflammation of your thyroid gland, which is a small butterfly-shaped gland located in the front of your neck under your skin.
Thyroiditis is inflammation of your thyroid gland. Your thyroid is a small butterfly-shaped gland located in the front of your neck under your skin. It is part of the endocrine system and controls many important body functions by producing and releasing certain hormones.
Thyroiditis includes a separate group of conditions that cause inflammation of the thyroid gland but have different causes and symptoms. Thyroiditis can lead to overproduction or too little thyroid hormone.
Thyroiditis can affect anyone, but it most often affects those designated as women at birth (AFAB) — especially adults.
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Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is 4 to 10 times more common in people with AFAB than in people with AMAB. It usually develops in people with AFAB between the ages of 30 and 50.
Silent or painless thyroiditis is also common in people with AFAB and is the next most common cause of thyroiditis after Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
The most common type of thyroiditis is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, which affects about 1% to 2% of people in the United States. Other types of thyroiditis are rarer.
However, a life-threatening condition called thyroid storm can develop if you have untreated or untreated hyperthyroidism for a long time, which can develop from inflammation of the thyroid gland. armor.
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If you have symptoms of thyroiditis, it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider so they can order diagnostic testing and treatment.
The symptoms of thyroiditis depend on the type of thyroiditis and its extent. Most forms of thyroiditis cause symptoms of thyrotoxicosis followed by symptoms of hypothyroidism.
Subacute thyroiditis and acute infectious thyroiditis also often cause pain in your thyroid area. Some people with thyroiditis have an enlarged thyroid gland (goiter).
The thyrotoxic phase of thyroiditis is usually short, lasting 1 to 3 months. If your thyroid cells are damaged rapidly and too much thyroid hormone is leaking, you may have symptoms of hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid), including:
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The hypothyroid phase of thyroiditis can be permanent and it can be permanent. If your thyroid cells are damaged and thyroid hormone levels drop, you may have symptoms of hypothyroidism, including:
Thyroiditis is caused by an attack of the thyroid gland, causing inflammation (the body’s response to injury) and damage to thyroid cells. There are a number of different reasons depending on the type.
The most common cause, or “invader,” is an autoimmune disease, which is the result of your immune system inadvertently attacking your body instead of protecting it. It’s not clear why your immune system does this. Antibodies that attack your thyroid cause most forms of thyroiditis.
Your healthcare provider will perform a physical exam, including evaluating your thyroid gland and asking you questions about your symptoms and medical history.
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If they suspect you may have subsequent thyroiditis, they may order any combination of the following tests to help make a diagnosis:
If you are in the thyrotoxic phase of your thyroiditis, your provider may prescribe beta-blockers to reduce palpitations (tachycardia) and tremors.
If you have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, your doctor will prescribe thyroid hormone replacement medication, such as levothyroxine. You may have to take this medicine for the rest of your life because hypothyroidism caused by Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is usually permanent.
If you have subacute, painless (silent) thyroiditis or postpartum thyroiditis and have symptoms of hypothyroidism, your doctor will prescribe thyroid hormone replacement medication. You may need to take it for about 6 to 12 months and then stop it to see if you have permanent hypothyroidism.
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If hypothyroidism is mild and you have few, if any, symptoms, medication may not be needed.
If you have severe infectious thyroiditis, the infection must be treated. This may include antibiotics. If an abscess appears on your thyroid, your provider may need to drain fluid and pus with fine-needle aspiration (needle biopsy).
Drug-induced thyroiditis usually lasts as long as you take the medication that causes it. Your doctor may give you a different but similar medicine to treat your thyroiditis, or they may prescribe levothyroxine (a thyroid hormone medicine) while you continue to take the medicine that is causing your thyroiditis. thyroiditis.
The pain of acute infectious thyroiditis and subacute thyroiditis can often be treated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin or ibuprofen. In some cases, the pain can be severe and steroid treatment may be needed.
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