What Does It Mean When Your Thyroid Is Underactive – A goiter occurs when the thyroid gland is enlarged. This has several possible causes and may or may not be related to abnormal thyroid hormone levels. It is treatable.
An illustration of the thyroid gland wrapped around the trachea in a person’s neck shows the normal size of the thyroid gland and the enlarged size (goiter).
What Does It Mean When Your Thyroid Is Underactive
Goiter is a condition where the thyroid gland is enlarged. The entire thyroid gland can become larger or it can develop into one or more small masses called thyroid nodules.
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The thyroid gland is a small butterfly-shaped endocrine gland located in your neck, just below the mandible. It produces the hormones thyroxine (also called T4) and triiodothyronine (also called T3). These hormones play a role in certain body functions, including:
Goiter may be associated with an irregular amount of thyroid hormone in your body (hypothyroidism or underactive thyroid) or with normal levels of thyroid hormone (hypothyroidism).
A goiter can be classified in several different ways, including how it grows and whether or not your thyroid hormone levels are irregular.
Healthcare providers combine these descriptors to classify specific types of goiter when they are diagnosed. For example, toxic multinodular goiter occurs when more than one thyroid nodule—usually several—makes an extra amount of thyroid hormone.
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Anyone can develop goitre, but people assigned female at birth are four times more likely to develop it than people assigned male at birth. The risk of developing goitre also increases as you get older. They are more common after the age of 40.
You are also more likely to develop a goitre if your head and neck are 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 and barely noticeable to very large. Most goiters are not painful, but if you have a goiter (an inflamed thyroid gland), they can be painful.
Goiter is an adaptive response of thyroid cells to any process that inhibits thyroid hormone production. While the most common cause of goiter worldwide is iodine deficiency, many conditions can cause it.
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Sporadic goiter, in most cases, has no known 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 doctor usually diagnoses a goiter when he performs a physical exam and feels that you have an enlarged thyroid gland. However, the presence of a goitre indicates a thyroid problem. They will need to know what the problem is.
A simple goitre may only occur for a short time and may go away on its own without treatment.
Many goiters, such as multinodular goiter, are associated with normal thyroid hormone levels. Goitre usually does not need specific treatment after a health care provider diagnoses it. However, you may be at risk of developing hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism in the future.
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If you have goiter, it’s still important to see your doctor because goiter has several possible causes—some of which require treatment.
The treatment of goitre depends on the size of the tumor of the thyroid gland, the symptoms and what causes it. The treatments include:
Iodine-deficient goiter (simple goiter) is usually the only type of goiter you can prevent. A diet that includes fish, dairy products and a healthy amount of iodized table salt prevents these types of goiter. Iodine and other food additives are generally not recommended and may do more harm than good.
Simple goitre has a good prognosis. If the goitre persists, it may put pressure on the surrounding structures and may cause difficulty breathing, swallowing, and hoarseness.
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If the goiter is a sign of another thyroid disease such as Graves’ disease or Hashimoto’s disease, the prognosis depends on the underlying cause of the goiter.
Regardless of the cause, it’s important to see your doctor regularly (at least annually) if you’ve been diagnosed with goiter so he can monitor it.
The thyroid gland is an important gland in the endocrine system that affects many aspects of the body. If it is enlarged, it may be a sign of an underlying thyroid disease. The good news is that goiter can be treated and sometimes goes away on its own. If you notice a lump in the front of your neck, talk to your doctor. They can determine if goiter is the underlying cause.
Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse products or services that are not affiliated with Cleveland Clinic. Policy: Your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in your neck. This gland produces hormones that regulate the body’s use of energy, along with many other important functions. Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland is underactive. When thyroid hormone production decreases, body processes slow down and change. Hypothyroidism can affect many different systems in your body.
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Hypothyroidism can affect metabolism, mental function, energy level and bowel movements. Depending on how low thyroid hormone production is, symptoms can be mild to severe.
Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish symptoms such as fatigue, weakness and constipation from other conditions. To confirm that you have hypothyroidism, your doctor will need to do blood tests to check your thyroid hormone levels.
When you have hypothyroidism, your body produces too little of the thyroid hormones T3 and T4. These hormones control your metabolism. They affect how your body uses energy. As a result, many of the body’s main functions change and can slow down.
Hypothyroidism slows and weakens your heart rate, making your heart less efficient at pumping blood to your body. It can make you short of breath when you exercise. By narrowing the arteries, this condition can also lead to high blood pressure.
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Hypothyroidism can lead to high blood cholesterol. High blood pressure and high cholesterol together can increase the risk of heart disease.
Untreated hypothyroidism can change the way nerves transmit information to and from the brain, spinal cord, and body. This can cause a condition called peripheral neuropathy. Its symptoms include numbness, tingling, pain or burning in the affected parts of the body.
A severe lack of thyroid hormone weakens the muscles you use to breathe and makes your lungs work less efficiently. As a result, you may feel short of breath or have difficulty exercising.
Hypothyroidism also increases the likelihood of developing sleep apnea, which is a temporary pause in breathing that occurs during sleep.
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Hypothyroidism slows the movement of food through the stomach and intestines. Slow digestion can lead to symptoms such as heartburn, constipation and bloating.
Women with hypothyroidism may experience irregular or heavy periods or missed periods. They may have difficulty conceiving or be at higher risk of miscarriage if they do become pregnant.
A lack of thyroid hormone can leave the skin dry and dull. It can also affect how you control your body temperature, causing you to sweat less than usual. Your hair may be thinning – including the hair on your scalp and along the outer edges of your eyebrows. Your nails may look different and become brittle.
Hypothyroidism can affect every part of your body, from your brain to your skin. However, the situation varies from person to person. Some people have mild symptoms while others have more severe symptoms. Taking the medications prescribed by your doctor is important so that you can manage this condition and its symptoms and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
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It has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and medical societies. We avoid using third-order referrals. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and up-to-date by reading our editorial policy. Hypothyroidism, or hypothyroidism, occurs when the thyroid gland produces too few hormones. Low levels of thyroid hormones can cause a wide variety of signs and symptoms from changes in mental function to digestive problems.
The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the front of the neck. Thyroid hormones play a vital role in regulating metabolism and energy use and affect almost every organ in the body.
In the early stages, a person may not notice any symptoms. However, if left untreated, hypothyroidism can lead to serious complications, such as infertility and heart disease.
In this article, we describe 12 common signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism. We also discuss how common hypothyroidism is and when to see a doctor.
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Many people with this condition report feeling so tired that they are unable to go about their day as normal.
Fatigue occurs regardless of how much sleep a person sleeps or how many daytime naps they take. Treating hypothyroidism usually improves people’s energy levels and performance.
Regulate body weight, food intake and fat and sugar metabolism. People with low levels of thyroid hormones can gain weight and increase their body mass index (BMI).
Even mild cases of hypothyroidism can increase the risk of weight gain and obesity. People with this condition often report a swollen face as well as weight gain around the abdomen or other areas of the body.
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Studies also indicate a link between thyroid disorders and rheumatoid arthritis
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