Treat a Goiter
Goiters are unsightly disfigurements of the neck and throat caused by a variety of thyroid dysfunctions. Some are small and cause little problem, some may grow quite large and cause much discomfort and complications that may be life threatening. Treatment depends on the reason for the goiter, so it is important to receive the proper diagnosis.
1. Visit your doctor immediately if you notice swelling in your throat and neck. The doctor will do a blood test to determine whether you are suffering from a thyroid problem. Depending on the cause of the thyroid hormone disturbance, your doctor will decide what kind of treatment is necessary. Certain types of goiters may be a symptom of a life-threatening disease so it is important to treat them immediately.
2. Take radioactive iodine pills if the goiter is caused by an iodine deficiency. These pills are taken by mouth and travel through the bloodstream to reach the thyroid gland. Once there, they will shrink the goiter and kill thyroid cells. This course is known to cause an underactive thyroid gland which is treated with thyroid hormone replacement therapy, usually for life.
3. Take levothyroxine medication, a thyroid hormone replacement, if hypothyroidism is the cause of the goiter. Hypothyroidism is caused by a dysfunction of the pituitary gland that creates excessive production of the thyroid hormone. This treatment ends the symptoms of goiter and slows down the release of the hormone.
4. Recognize symptoms of Grave’s Disease, thought to be caused by an antibody which excites the excess production of thyroid hormones. This is characterized by a variety of symptoms, such as rapid heartbeat, sweating and anxiety and bulging eyes. Methimazole and propylthiouracil are two medications that can slow the rapid production of thyroid hormones.
5. Undergo surgery if your doctor advises this course of treatment. The surgeon will make an incision and extract all or part of the thyroid, depending on the extent of the damage. Normal tissue is usually left in place. Most goiters are benign but thyroid cancer is a possibility, in which case surgery is necessary. Small goiters that do not interfere with breathing or swallowing are usually left alone.