A goiter is the increase in volume of the thyroid. The thyroid is an endocrine gland shaped like a butterfly located at the front of the neck, which ensures the secretion of thyroid hormones. The latter exercise a regulatory role within an organism, particularly with respect to growth and metabolism, amongst other functions. Iodine (trace elements) is required for the synthesis of thyroid hormones. It is of a nutritional value for the body (iodine is present in sea salt).
The causes of the occurrence of this hypertrophy are diverse. A goiter may be due to an imbalance in the synthesis of thyroid hormones, an iodine deficiency or a disease of the thyroid gland (thyroiditis, Grave's disease ...).
The presence of a goiter is visible at an advanced stage. It is easily identifiable.
Signs will begin with the swelling of the lower part of the neck. This swelling can cause compression of adjacent organs, leading to:
- difficulty breathing;
- difficulty swallowing (dysphagia);
- disorders of the voice ...
A diagnosis is made upon the observation and palpation of the neck. The doctor will then prescribe additional tests to confirm and investigate the cause.
A thyroid scintigraphy and an ultrasound will be performed. A blood test to measure thyroid hormones (which shows a deficit or an overproduction of the hormones in question) is also recommended. Antibodies that can lead to an autoimmune disease are assayed at the same time
Treatment will depend on the origin of the formation of the goiter.
It may therefore consist of:
- the administration of iodine to compensate for its deficiency and thus reboost the synthesis of hormones (if iodine deficiency is in fact involved);
- a treatment with antithyroid drugs in case of excess secretion;
- occasionally, a more radical treatment using radioactive iodine to destroy a part of the hypersecreting gland;
- the partial or total removal of the thyroid gland (thyroidectomy) in some cases of hyperthyroidism;
- replacement therapy (with synthetic hormones), in case of the failure of thyroid hormone synthesis.
Only a goiter due to iodine deficiency goiter can be prevented: make sure that your diet provides your body with an adequate iodine intake.
Original article published by
. Translated by Jeff