The overgrowth of the thyroid gland is called non – toxic goiter and it strictly refers to the enlargement of the gland, but without excess production of hormones. There are cases when the thyroid gland becomes so large that it can actually be visible and it often resembles a mass. The enlargement of the thyroid gland can be caused by a series of various factors. Goiter can be caused by low levels of iodine in one’s diet, but the most common cause is an improper synthesis of normal hormones which leads to a higher production of THS also known as thyroid stimulating hormones. THS is produced by the pituitary gland and is the main reason behind most goiter cases.
When enlarged, the thyroid gland can cause a severe compression of the trachea and of the esophagus. Many people suffering from goiter are said to experience symptoms like coughing, shortness of breath and even the feeling that they can’t properly swallow food. In some sever cases, the only option of relieving the symptoms is surgical removal.
Treatments for thyroid goiter
In their incipient phases, goiters can be treated with medication. Most doctors usually recommend pills that contain thyroid hormone. In ideal cases this will cause the pituitary gland from producing large amounts of TSH. This will normally lead to the stabilization of the thyroid in terms of size. People who are suffering from goiter should keep in mind the fact that this course of treatment will not cause the thyroid gland to shrink in size, but it will only prevent it from growing any further. There are also some cases where patients don’t respond to this hormone therapy and they are, without a doubt, recommended surgery.
Surgical removal is also recommended in those cases where the thyroid gland has grown so large that it compresses the esophagus, the trachea or even both. These patients usually present symptoms such as coughing, nighttime chocking and even a change in their voice. More than that, an enlarged thyroid may also cause compression in the blood vessels.
One other reason for an enlarged thyroid to be surgically removed is the suspicion of cancer. The concern for malignancy is caused by a so – called dominant nodule in a goiter that is multi – nodular. However, when it comes to a multi – nodular goiter, the frequency of malignancy is usually lower than 5%. Patients should keep in mind that removing the goiter surgically does not offer any kind of guarantee when it comes to cancer. A goiter can also be surgically removed for aesthetic reasons. In some cases, goiters can enlarge so much that they become visible and appear as a sort of mass in the patient’s neck.
In other cases, enlarged goiters cause no symptoms, except for the cosmetic inconvenience. Most of the times, if the thyroid gland has become large enough to be noticed by somebody else than you, then you should definitely see a doctor. Even if you didn’t notice any unpleasant symptoms, the thyroid may still be compressing your trachea or esophagus and this surely requires the expertise of a physician.