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Definition of Goitre

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of the neck, just below the Adam’s apple. Goitre is an abnormal enlargement of the thyroid gland. Although goitres are usually painless, an abnormally large goitre can cause a cough and make it difficult for you to swallow or breathe.

Symptoms of Goitre

Not all goitres cause signs and symptoms, but when they do, it may have the following signs and symptoms:

  • Swelling at the base of your neck
  • Coughing
  • A tight feeling in your throat
  • Hoarseness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty swallowing

Risk Factors of Goitre

Goitres can happen to anyone at any given point in their life. A person may be at a higher risk of developing a goitre with the following conditions:

  • Has a lack of iodine in your diet
  • Is a female
  • Is above the age of 40
  • Has a family history of autoimmune disease
  • Either pregnant or menopausal
  • Either had radiation treatment near your neck or have been in any other way exposed to radiation in a nuclear facility or test

Diagnosis of Goitre

In order to confirm that one has goitre, the doctor may discover an enlarged thyroid gland simply by feeling your neck and having the Patient swallow during a basic physical exam. He/she may also run the following tests:

  • Hormone test to determine the amount of hormones are being produced by your thyroid or pituitary glands.
  • Antibody test to check for abnormal antibodies
  • Ultrasonography to reveal the size of your thyroid gland and whether the gland contains nodules that your doctor may not have been able to feel.
  • Thyroid scan to check the nature and size of your thyroid
  • Biopsy to obtain a tissue or fluid for sampling

Treatment of Goitre

Goitre treatment depends on the size of the goitre, signs and symptoms, and the underlying cause. Based on these, the Doctor may recommend treatment which may include:

  • Observation: If the goitre is small, there is a chance it might go away on its own.
  • Medication: Medication for goitre may include resolving the symptoms of hypothyroidism as well as slow the release of thyroid-stimulating hormone from the pituitary gland or to normalise hormone levels.
  • Surgery: Removing all or part of the thyroid gland (thyroidectomy)
  • Radioactive iodine: Radioactive iodine is used to treat an overactive thyroid gland
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