Enlarged Thyroid

Enlarged thyroid
Enlarged thyroid

What is an Enlarged Thyroid?

This is more of a symptom of thyroid disease than a medical condition. Your thyroid is one of the endocrine glands and is located in the front portion of your neck. This gland is important because it secretes hormones that help to regulate your metabolism, your growth, your sexual development, and many other different functions. The thyroid glad secretes three hormones, which are triiodothyronine, calcitonin, and thyroxin. An enlarged thyroid is often referred to as a goiter by physicians.

Symptoms of an Enlarged Thyroid

Enlarged thyroids do not always cause symptoms but if they do, here are some of the symptoms that may appear.

  • Swelling at the base of your neck that is visible.
  • It may be obvious when you are putting on makeup or shaving.
  • You may have a tight feeling in your throat.
  • Hoarseness
  • Coughing
  • Having difficulty in breathing.
  • Having difficulty in swallowing.

Swollen thyroid symptoms may also depend on the cause of having an enlarged thyroid.

Thyroiditis

  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Skin feels dry
  • Feeling depressed
  • Swelling around your eyes or in your legs
  • Weakness in your muscles
  • Fast or slow heart beat
  • Cramps
  • Migraines
  • Leaking of the thyroid hormones into your bloodstream called thyrotoxicosis

Graves’ disease

  • High blood pressure
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Insomnia
  • Tremors
  • Over responsive reflexes called hyperreflexia
  • Graves’ opthalmopathy
  • Weight gain or loss that happens suddenly
  • Degeneration of muscle
  • Intolerance to heat
  • Hair thins out
  • Skin appears red
  • Nails that are brittle

Thyroid nodules

  • Shortness of breath
  • Voice hoarseness
  • Disease of your lymph nodes called lymphadenopathy

Iodine deficiency

  • Severely stunted mental and physical growth called cretinism
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Feeling depressed
  • Low basal body temperature

Causes

When you have an enlarged thyroid your thyroid gland is either secreting an excessive amount of thyroid hormones and this can cause a medical condition called hyperthyroidism or not producing enough thyroid hormones it is called hypothyroidism. There are many different diseases of your thyroid that can cause you to have an enlarged thyroid. Some of the causes can include:

Graves’ disease

This is an autoimmune disease and is a common cause of having an enlarged thyroid. An autoimmune disease is where your immune system works against the healthy cells and tissues of your body. The abnormal antibodies created by this disease cause your thyroid to produce too many hormones.

Thyroiditis

This is an inflammation of your thyroid gland of which there are many forms of this disease. The most common inflammation is called Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. It is named after the Japanese physician who discovered this condition. It is thought to a genetic medical condition and is also an autoimmune disease. This particular type of inflammation affects five out of every one hundred people each year. This particular one is also referred to as chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis. In teenagers with hypothyroidism this is the common cause. Your immune system is attacking your thyroid gland and not letting it produce the amount of hormones that is required leading to your thyroid gland becoming inflamed. When your body senses a low level of thyroid hormone the pituitary glad produces more thyroid-stimulating hormone(TSH) in order to stimulate your thyroid gland causing an enlargement

Thyroid nodules

When solitary nodules develop on your thyroid lobes they can cause an enlarged thyroid. Most of the time these nodules are benign and will not develop into cancer.

Iodine deficiency

This nutrient is very important and is needed in order for your thyroid gland to function properly. This is one of the main reasons that salt now has iodine in it. If you are deficient in iodine your thyroid gland is going to be over stimulated and this can lead to a goiter forming.

Multinodular goiter

This is when there are several fluid-filled or solid nodules develop on both sides of your thyroid gland.

Thyroid cancer

This is not as common as benign nodules but if you do have it you will usually see an enlargement of your thyroid on only one side.

Pregnancy

When you are pregnant your body produces a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) which could cause a slight enlargement of your thyroid.

Enlarged Thyroid Treatment

The treatment for an enlarged thyroid depends on several factors:

  • The symptoms
  • The cause of the enlarged thyroid
  • The size of the goiter or enlargement

Some of the treatments your physician may recommend include:

Medications

If the cause if hypothyroidism the physician will give your thyroid hormone replacement medications with levothyroxine to help resolve not only the symptoms but also slow down your pituitary gland from releasing TSH. Doing this can help decrease your enlarged thyroid. If it is caused by an inflammation they prescribe a corticosteroid medication or suggest taking aspirin. If it is caused by hyperthyroidism the physician may prescribe medication to normalize your thyroid hormone levels.

Radioactive iodine

This can be taken orally to help treat a thyroid gland that is overactive.

Surgery

If the enlargement is huge and causes difficulty in swallowing or breathing or is uncomfortable they may remove all or part of the gland. If it is caused by cancer this is also the treatment used.

Enlarged Thyroid Pictures

Pictures of Enlarged Thyroid…

enlarged thyroid

enlarged thyroid pictures

enlarged thyroid pictures 2

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