Goitre is a medical condition where the thyroid gland which is located in the neck (in front of the throat) becomes swollen or enlarged. This lump moves up and down when you swallow. The thyroid gland is a small butterfly-shaped gland located in front of the windpipe. It produces two hormones through iodine from the foods we eat which are Tri-iodothyronine (T3) and Thyroxine(T4). These hormones are released into the bloodstream to be used by body cells for metabolism (conversion of calories and oxygen to be used for energy).
Causes of Goitre
- Insufficient iodine due to inadequate intake of iron-rich foods is the world’s leading cause of cancer.
- Thyroid cancer
- Hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism
- Inflammation e.g. thyroiditis
- Pregnancy: a hormone produced during pregnancy called human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) may cause the thyroid to enlarge.
- Medications e.g. lithium, amiodiarone
- Radiation exposure
- Autoimmune disease
Symptoms of Goitre
Most goitre is asymptomatic, but here are common symptoms that can be discovered.
- Tightness in the throat
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Difficulty in breathing
These symptoms are can present due to other underlying cause of goitre especially in a case of hyperthyroidism.
- Muscle weakness
- Hyper activity
- Increased appetite
- Hair loss
Symptoms associated with hypothyroidism
- Cold trembling hands
- Weight gain
- Mental confusion
- Cold intolerance
Treatment of Goitre
- In case of hypothyroidism, hormone replacement therapy is used to replace thyroid hormones
- Hyperthyroidism is controlled using anti-thyroid drugs such as thionamide which helps to control hormone levels.
- Radioactive iodine is used to decrease thyroid function.
- Surgery may reduce life-threatening symptoms like difficulty in swallowing and difficulty in breathing.
- Diet iodine modification
- Eat seafood rich in iodine, such as seaweed, shrimps and shellfish
- Eat iodized salts
- Foods like oats, seafood, tomatoes, carrots, lettuce, garlic, strawberries, eggs (yolk) and onions can be used to treat goitre.
- Fruits like citric fruits, pineapples, bananas, watermelons, grapes and dates.
- Avoid overexposure to radiation be it at workplace or during any kind of radiation treatment.
- Neck exercises can improve thyroid function