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What are the Main Causes of Goiter?

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Goiter – A goiter is simply another term for an enlargement of the thyroid gland. Although these lumps are normally painless, they can sometimes make it difficult to swallow. It is currently estimated that as much as 16 percent of the global population may be suffering from goiter. However, many will remain unaware until the later stages when medical intervention is required.

What causes this condition? This is an important question in order to appreciate the steps which can be taken in order to avoid the associated symptoms. Let us take a quick look.

The Relationship Between Goiter and Iodine

A goiter is directly related to tour thyroid gland. The thyroid is responsible for producing a series of hormones which regulate the metabolic processes of your body (specifically how fats and carbohydrates are absorbed). However, the thyroid relies upon iodine to function properly. It may become enlarged if you are deficient in this substance. We should still keep in mind that Americans are normally provided with iodine in the form of iodized salt. So, this is not always the main cause.

Graves’ Disease

Graves’ Disease is associated with an overactive thyroid. In this case, it produces too much of a hormone known as thyroxine (referred to as “hyperthyroidism”). Antibodies may sometimes mistake the thyroid gland as a threat and begin attacking it. In return, even more thyroxine is produced. This leads to noticeable swelling.

Additional Causes

Although a lack of iodine and Graves’ Disease are two well-known causes of goiter, other factors may come into play. Here are a handful of other potential issues which may cause the thyroid to swell:

  • Fluid-filled lumps that develop around the thyroid gland.
  • An underactive thyroid (known as “hypothyroidism”).
  • A local inflammation (such as an infection).
  • Pregnancy.
  • In rare cases, thyroid cancer.

There are also several risk factors which may increase your chances of developing goiter. For example, goiters tend to occur after the age of 40 and women are more affected than men. Specific medications (such as those used to treat heart conditions) may cause goiter. This is why it is important to speak with a medical professional in order to obtain an accurate diagnosis at an early stage.

Treatment Options for Goiter

So, how can goiter be treated? The good news is that modern medical technology has come a long way. Certain medications such as Liothyronine have been shown to treat hypothyroidism and you can learn more about Liothyronine here. If the gland happens to become very enlarged, surgery might be required to remove a portion. There are likewise times when radioactive iodine may be administered if your goiter happens to be caused by an overactive thyroid.

Recognizing the main causes of this condition is the best way to detect any early warning signs that it may be present. If you are concerned about your thyroid gland or should you notice any type of lump in your throat, always make it a point to schedule an appointment with your doctor.

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