Goitre is the abnormal enlargement of the thyroid, the butterfly- gland located at the base of the neck below Adam’s apple. Derived from the Latin word “gutturia” which means throat, goitre is mostly painless and benign in nature but if it is swollen it can cause severe cough and difficulty in swallowing, breathing or talking.
Iodine deficiency is one of the main reasons behind the malfunctioning of thyroid gland and goitre usually happens due to over secretion of the hormone leading to hyperthyroidism or an under active thyroid causing hypothyroidism.
It may also occur if the person is already suffering from grave’s disease, Hashimoto's disease, thyroiditis, thyroid cancer or if they have certain nodules or inflammation of the thyroid gland.
There Are 3 Types Of Goitre:
Nontoxic or Sporadic Goitre:
This type of goitre is like a benign lump that occurs due to medications like lithium toxicity and does not affect the functioning of the thyroid gland.
Toxic Nodular or Multinodular Goitre:
This type of goitre happens in the form of two or more small lumps which grows over time and produce their own thyroid hormone leading to hyperthyroidism.
Colloid or Endemic Goitre:
This is the usual form of goitre that happens in people due to the lack of iodine.
Although, in certain cases, a mild inflammation of the thyroid gland may not be visible from the outside, but chronic or severe inflammation may be detected by the following symptoms.
- A visible lump or swelling at the base of the neck
- Hoarseness of the voice
- Difficulty in breathing and swallowing
- Tight feeling in the throat
Diagnosis and Treatment
Goitre is easily diagnosed by the doctor by physically feeling the gland on your neck from the outside while you are asked to swallow. This is followed by some tests to confirm it which include.
1. A Thyroid scan
It is done to analyse the size and nature of the thyroid gland.
2. Hormone Test
It determines the amount of hormone secreted by the thyroid gland into the blood.
3. Antibody Test
Some cases, goitre is caused due to the production of abnormal antibodies, which is confirmed by an antibody test of the blood.
It is done to check the size of the thyroid gland and analyse the number of nodules it has.
It is done to collect tissue or fluid from the gland to check for risk of cancer.
After a thorough examination of the enlarged gland, the doctor may suggest specific treatments including:
A smaller nodule may not interfere in the hormone production and sometimes disappear on its own.
The doctor may prescribe medications to normalise the hormone production by the thyroid gland.
A huge lump may sometimes cause major difficulties and might ultimately be removed by the process of thyroidectomy.
An oral dose of the radioactive iodine is given to the patient which destroys the enlarged goitre cells and reduces the size.