- Posted on- May 27, 2015
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Goiter refers to an abnormal growth of your thyroid gland. Though goiters are typically unproblematic, a large goiter can cause a cough and make it difficult for you to swallow or breathe. A goiter can be result of over- or underproduction of thyroid hormones or lumps that develop in the gland itself.
Contributory factors causing goiter
Suffering from goiter doesn't necessarily mean that your thyroid gland is working abnormally. Even when it's inflamed, your thyroid may produce normal amounts of hormones. It might also, however, produce inadequate levels of thyroxine (T-4) and T-3 (triiodothyronine) hormones.
There are a number of reasons behind swelling of your thyroid gland:
- Iodine deficiency: Iodine is the prime requirement for the production of thyroid hormones and is found in seawater and in the soil of coastal areas. A diet which lacks iodine is the main cause of goiter. It is not a case in countries where iodine is routinely added to table salt and other foods.
- Graves' disease: Goiter can sometimes occur due to overproduction of thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism). In Graves' disease, antibodies produced by your immune system accidently attack your thyroid gland causing it to make surplus thyroxine. This in turn causes the thyroid to swell.
- Hashimoto's disease: Goiter can also occur due to underproduction of thyroid hormone (hypothyroidism). Hashimoto's disease is an autoimmune disorder which damages your thyroid so that it produces too little. The pituitary gland then makes more TSH to stimulate the thyroid which causes the gland to enlarge.
- Multinodular goiter: In Multinodular goiter, several nodules develop in both sides of your thyroid, resulting in swelling of the gland.
- Inflammation: Thyroiditis is an inflammatory condition that can cause pain and swelling in the thyroid. It may lead to hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism.