Goiter – Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, and Surgery


The thyroid gland that grows in your neck refers to Goiter. This gland is at the front section of the neck underneath Adam’s apple.

A goiter is a temporary condition that can get better without any treatment. However, it can also be a symptom of any other serious problem of thyroid condition that might need medical treatment.

How many types of Goiters are there?

In medical terms, goiter has several categories that can swell your thyroid, that include:

  • Simple Goiters– In this condition, your thyroid doesn’t produce sufficient hormones consequently is enlarged in size to meet the requirement.
  • Multinodular Goiters – It occurs due to lumps known as nodules, which develop in the thyroid.
  • Nontoxic Goiters or Sporadic Goiters – This type of goiters generally has no known reason. Some medicines and medical treatment can cause them.
  • Endemic Goiters – It is also known as a colloid goiters, it mainly happens in individuals who’ve iodine deficiency. The thyroid uses iodine to produce hormones for our body. This condition is usually found in people where iodine is mixed in table salt and is found in countries like the United States.

When a goiter is specified as “harmful” it is associated with hyperthyroidism. This condition refers to the excess production of thyroid hormone. A “harmless” goiter doesn’t lead to any of these thyroid conditions like hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism (insufficient thyroid hormone).

What are the Symptoms of Goiter?

According to Dr. Valeria Simone MD experienced board-certified general surgeon and thyroid specialist at Southlake General Surgery, Texas., the symptoms of goiter may include swelling at the front of your neck. It can be a small bulge or several nodules to one large goiter either at one side of the neck or on both sides.

An individual may also experience:

  • A rough voice
  • Swollen veins of the neck
  • Feeling of dizziness on raising arms
  • Coughing
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Problem in swallowing
  • Stiffness in the throat

In case of a harmful goiter with hyperthyroidism, an individual may experience:

  • Nausea, nervousness, or Sweating
  • Diarrhea
  • High blood pressure
  • Weight loss
  • A high pulse rate or heartbeat
  • Trembling, weakness in muscles, or hand tremors

In case of hypothyroidism, you may experience:

  • Weight gain, depression, dry skin, or fatigue
  • Latency in mental and physical functions
  • Constipation
  • Feeling of cold, or Numbness in hands
  • Irregular menstrual cycle
  • Low pulse rate

What are the causes of Goiter?

Goiters don’t constitute any one illness. They can develop rapidly or gradually over years.

Iodine deficiency was the main reason for goiters in individuals in the U.S. before it was marketized with slat as iodized salt in 1920. In the United States, one of the main causes of goiters is an autoimmune disorder (that includes Hashimoto’s disease or Graves’ disease) and multinodular goiter.

A goiter can also be caused by thyroid inflammation also known as thyroiditis. An individual may experience this condition after getting infected with any sort of virus or after pregnancy.

Risk Factors for Goiters

  • Individuals above 40 years are at higher risk.
  • Women are more prone to have goiters and thyroid disorders.
  • Menopause or Pregnancy are two factors that are associated with thyroid problems.
  • Family history of autoimmune disorder.
  • Drugs and medicines.
  • Medical treatment that exposes to radiation such as radiation therapy for cancer
  • Iodine deficiency in the body.

Diagnosis of Goiter

Diagnosis of goiter at Southlake General Surgery, Texas will be easy and simple by examining the neck. Our doctor may prescribe you to go for a few tests to find the exact reason and how it is affecting you. Tests may include:

  • Ultrasound to check the size of the thyroid and nodules.
  • CT scan and MRI, in case the size of the goiter is large and it has spread to the chest.
  • Blood tests to evaluate the thyroid hormone levels and check for antibodies that cause goiters.
  • Thyroid Scan – In this procedure, the doctor injects radioactive material to develop a picture of the thyroid on a computer screen. This helps to find out the size of the thyroid and its functionality.
  • Biopsy – In this procedure, the doctor collects a sample of tissue or fluid through a needle and sends it to a lab testing to check for cancer.

Treatment of Goiter

An individual may not require any treatment for goiter if the thyroid hormone level is normal and the size of the goiter is small. However, goiter treatment is recommended if the thyroid hormone levels are too low or too high.

Your doctor will level up the thyroid hormone if they are not normal. Your doctor will also examine the causes of goiter and its seriousness to suggest the treatment, that includes:

  • Medicines – Your doctor may prescribe a thyroid hormone replacement medication for an individual experiencing hypothyroidism. A successful medication course may settle the thyroid to its normal size. However, a large goiter with internal scar tissue might not settle with medicine.
  • Radioactive Iodine – This treatment destroys the cells to settle the thyroid. This is included in a pill for the treatment of overactive thyroid. After this treatment, an individual will require hormone medicines throughout his/her life.
  • Surgery – Thyroid surgery is also known as thyroidectomy, it is an alternative in case the goiter size is large or it’s not responding to medicines.  

An individual should connect with the doctor if there are any symptoms of goiter and the patient might also have hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism that require treatment.

If you notice your goiter is increased in size and there is a change in voice and shortness of breath, you should connect with your doctor. An enlarged goiter needs treatment and may require thyroid surgery to remove it.


For more information about Goiter – Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Thyroid Surgery, and consultation with us. Please contact our healthcare expert today at +1(817) 748-0200. You can also make an online appointment with us.

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