A swelling or enlargement of a thyroid gland in the neck is called goiter. Each case differs according to the seriousness of the symptoms and the extent of swelling. The swelling could be small but in certain cases the swelling gets so large that it can restrict breathing. Goitre can be caused by hypothyroidism, which occurs when the amount of the thyroid hormone produced is too little. An iodine deficiency can also cause goiter, though this is not a problem in the more developed countries where iodine is added to the salt. Hyperthyroidism involves an overactive thyroid gland which causes goitre. Smoking, hormonal problems and nodules cause goitre in rare cases.
The symptoms of goitre include problems with swallowing, shortness of breath, hoarseness, cough and tightness in the throat. Trouble in breathing is also a symptom that occurs only in severe cases. In simple cases patients with goitre are given no treatment and it resolves itself. Eating a healthy diet with adequate amounts of iodine can help in the prevention of developing goitre. The cases involving hypothyroidism can be treated with a synthetic substitute of thyroid hormone. While for those suffering from hyperthyroidism or excess production of the hormone, oral medication are prescribed that counters the excess production. Surgery is only resorted to in rare cases. If you notice any of the mentioned symptoms contact a general physician at the earliest.
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