Many people today are confused with the different complicated thyroid terms, used by the doctors to classify their condition and the situation gets worse when they are sent home without further explanation. Recently, I received a lot of emails from patients, stating that they have a goiter and don’t know what to do to improve their condition.
First, we need some clarification here. Goiter is not a “thing” that people have, like cancer. Goiter is a thyroid condition, and more specifically an enlargement of the thyroid gland. That enlargement can be very visible, like a small ball, or invisible to the human eye. It can cause pain in the neck, tenderness and sensitiveness when touched, hoarse voice, pain the throat, coughing etc. If you feel uncomfortable or sensitive in this particular area it is advisable to schedule a preventive check-up with your doctor.
The thyroid enlargement also could be due to different reasons, some of them contradictory, so they have to be explored with caution. For example, the goiter/ goitre can be caused by underactive thyroid gland (known as Hashimoto’s thyroditis or hypothyroidism), hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid gland), different nodules ( cancerous or not cancerous) or thyroditis (general inflammation of the thyroid gland).
The causes for the goiter condition need first to be assessed before proceeding with treatment, change of diet or looking for alternative treatments on Internet. The diagnostic procedure may involve thyroid scan, biopsy of the nodule (if there is one), thyroid tests and thyroid ultrasound. It is a complicated, but necessary procedure to determine the origin of this thyroid condition.
If the cause is underactive thyroid, then medication like L-thyroxine can be prescribed. If it is due to overactive thyroid, then the patient could be offered medication, RAI or surgery. Nodules can also be treated surgically or with radioactive iodine (which generally shrinks the thyroid gland), but that procedure is even more dangerous than surgery as it may affect other organs as well. Since in some countries the goiter is due to a diet which lacks enough quantities of iodine, then a change of diet could be recommended.
My point here: if you are told by your doctor that you have a goiter, then the next step will be to determine the origin of your enlarged thyroid, before proceeding or agreeing to any treatment. Guessing is not an option, or it may cause further negative health consequences. For more information on goiter, check here:
If you have any experience with thyroid diagnostic procedures, different treatments or just your experience, please, do not hesitate to share.