Understanding Goiter

A swollen neck due to an enlargement of the thyroid gland is known as a goiter. The swelling is usually soft although it may be hard and lumpy. In some cases goiter can grow to be quite large, causing a considerable increase in collar size, and can even compress the windpipe.

When an overactive thyroid gland produces a goiter, it will probably be accompanied by various other symptoms such as -

  1. Sweating
  2. Raising pulse fast heart beat
  3. Slightly bulging eyes
  4. Weight loss
  5. Altered menstrual cycle
  6. Greater frequency in bowel movements

Alternately when an under active thyroid leads to the formation of a goiter, it may be accompanied by symptoms such as -

  1. Dry skin and hair
  2. Sensitivity to cold
  3. Weight gain
  4. Fatigue feeling tired
  5. Hair loss
  6. Constipation
  7. Altered menstrual cycle

A goiter is an enlargement of the thyroid gland associated with normal decreased or increased thyroid function. Iodine deficiency produces goiter with normal or hypo functioning gland. Some people suffer from iodine deficiency because they live in hilly regions where the foods contain less iodine (which comes into the food from the soil and water). People living near the sea are found to have adequate iodine levels. Also seafood such as fish, shell fish and fish oils are rich sources of iodine.

There are also certain foods which prevent the thyroid gland from trapping the iodine and using it to prepare the thyroid hormones. They are called goitrogens. These are cabbage, spinach, lettuce and turnip. Women are more prone to thyroid problems than men. But if you have a family history of thyroid problem, heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes and complain of the above mentioned symptoms, it is advisable to get a thyroid test done or consult your family physician at the earliest. This problem can occur in men and children also.

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