March 7, 2016


A goitre is an enlarged thyroid gland. Some people with a goitre (but not all) have an underactive or overactive thyroid. This means that they make too much or too little thyroid hormone. There are various causes of goitre and treatment depends on the cause.
What is a goitre?
A goitre is an enlarged thyroid gland. A goitre can mean that all the thyroid gland is swollen or enlarged, or one or more swellings or lumps develop in a part or parts of the thyroid
The thyroid gland is in the lower part of the front of the neck. It lies just in front of the windpipe (trachea). It has a right and left lobe which are connected together by a narrow band of thyroid tissue. It is roughly the shape of a butterfly. You cannot usually see or feel a normal thyroid gland. If the thyroid enlarges, it causes a swelling in the neck which you can see - a goitre.
The thyroid gland makes thyroid hormones - called thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). These hormones are carried round the body in the bloodstream. Thyroxine and T3 help to keep the body's functions (the metabolism) working at the correct pace. Many cells and tissues in the body need thyroxine and T3 to keep them working correctly.
Types of goitre
There are different types of goitre, each with various causes.
Diffuse smooth goitre
This means that the entire thyroid gland is larger than normal. The thyroid feels smooth but is larger than normal.
There are a number of causes. For example:
    Graves' disease - an autoimmune disease which causes the thyroid to swell and make too much thyroxine. In autoimmune disorders your body produces proteins called antibodies which damage a different part of your body - in this case, your thyroid.
    Inflammation of the thyroid (thyroiditis) - which can be due to various causes. For example, another autoimmune condition called Hashimoto's thyroiditis can damage the thyroid gland. Infections with germs such as bacteria and viruses can cause different types of thyroiditis.
Radiotherapy treatment to the neck can also lead to inflammation of the thyroid.
    Iodine deficiency. The thyroid needs iodine to make thyroxine and T3. If you lack iodine in your diet, the thyroid swells as it tries to make enough thyroxine and T3.
    Some medicines such as lithium and amiodarone can cause the thyroid to swell as a side-effect.
    Hereditary factors - some people inherit a tendency for a thyroid to swell. In particular, it may swell at times of life when you may make more thyroxine and T3 - for example, when you are pregnant, or during puberty.
    Any other disorder which causes problems in the making of thyroxine or T3 may cause the thyroid to swell.
Nodular goitres
A thyroid nodule is a small lump which develops in the thyroid. There are two types:
    A multinodular goitre. This means the thyroid gland has developed many lumps or nodules. The thyroid gland feels generally lumpy.
    A single nodule. Causes include:
        A cyst. This is a non-cancerous sac-like swelling filled with fluid.
        An adenoma. This is a solid non-cancerous tumour.
        A cancerous tumour (rare).
        Other rare causes.
Goitres and production of thyroid hormones
    In many people with a goitre, the goitre does not affect the amount of thyroid hormones that you make. You are then euthyroid, which means you make the correct amount of these hormones.
    In some people, the goitre is associated with an abnormality of thyroid function. You may make too much thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism or overactive thyroid) or too little (hypothyroidism or underactive thyroid).
Note: you can also develop an overactive or underactive thyroid without having a goitre.
What are the symptoms of a goitre?
    In many cases there are no symptoms apart from the appearance of a swelling in the neck. The size of a goitre can range from very small and barely noticeable, to very large.
    Most goitres are painless. However, an inflamed thyroid (thyroiditis) can be painful.
    If your thyroid makes too much or too little thyroxine or T3, this can cause a range of symptoms. See separate leaflets called Hyperthyroidism (Overactive Thyroid) and Hypothyroidism (Underactive Thyroid) for more details.
    A large goitre may press on the windpipe (trachea) or the gullet (oesophagus). This may cause difficulty with breathing or with swallowing

1 comment:

Queen LaGlamour Claire Oby said...

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