Goiter: Signs and Symptoms and Treatment

Commonly goiters are asymptomatic which means that they produce no symptoms. Below are most common symptoms of goiter:-

  • Cough, Throat symptoms of tightness & hoarseness
  • Dysphagia or trouble swallowing &
  • In severe conditions, difficulty in breathing too.

Symptoms and treatment of Goiter

Other symptoms that could be present due to the underlying reason of goiter, however, they are not due to goiter itself. i.e. if hyperthyroidism is the reason, overactive thyroid leads to symptoms like- Palpitations, nervousness, hyperactivity, increased sweating, fatigue, heat hypersensitivity, hair loss, increased appetite, loss of weight.

In the case where hypothyroidism results in goiter, the underactive thyroid causes symptoms like- constipation, cold intolerance, forgetfulness, hair loss, personality changes and gain of weight.

Treatments for Goiter:

The most simple of goiters can be prevented by adequate iodine intake which is added to the table salt in several countries.

Active goiter treatment is reserved for the cases which cause the symptoms or else no action is taken & few simple goiters get resolved on their own. If it is a small goiter and thyroid function is normal, a treatment is generally not offered.

Hypothyroidism

In cases lead to hypothyroidism or underactive thyroid, the treatment is with the synthetic replacement of the thyroid hormone.

The dosage of synthetic thyroxine is slowly increased till the measurements signify that normal thyroid function gets restored.

Synthetic preparations of T4 or I-thyroxine are preferred, however, preparations of T3 or liothyronine& combinations of both could be attempted as may desiccated animal thyroid extract

Hyperthyroidism

For goiters that result from hyperthyroidism or overactive thyroid, treatments aim at countering excess production of the hormone. For example, anti-thyroid drugs like thionamide drugs gradually decrease excess levels of the hormone.

Radioactive iodine is also a good option for treatment for decreasing thyroid function & stop production of hormone for hyperthyroidism.

Goiter Surgery

Surgery for reducing the size of swelling is kept reserved for the cases wherein goiter leads to troublesome symptoms like problems in swallowing or breathing.

Thyroidectomies are done under general anesthetic for removing a part of the thyroid gland.