Desk Report: A goiter is an abnormal enlargement of the thyroid gland and can occur for a number of different reasons. The thyroid is a small, butterfly- shaped gland inside the neck, just below your Adam’s apple. The thyroid gland produces hormones which control the body’s metabolism and regulate the rate at which the body carries out its functions.
The presence of an enlarged goiter usually means that the thyroid gland is not functioning normally. Causes of a goiter include an imbalance in the thyroid gland and Goiter symptoms generally occur in a gland that is overactive, producing too much hormone (hyperthyroidism), or that is underactive, producing too little hormone (hypothyroidism).
Goiter puts pressure on other parts of the neck such as the trachea and esophagus – making it difficult to breathe and swallow. Often, goiters are also removed for cosmetic reasons. They are more common in women and the elderly.
The presence of an enlarged goiter indicates that there is a problem with the thyroid gland, even if the patient does not have any clinical signs of a thyroid problem.
Tips for Coping with Goiter
Here are some useful tips that you can use to help maintain thyroid health and relieve goiter symptoms:
1. Eat a diet high in protein to replace muscle tissue that is lost from an overactive thyroid
2. Eat a low fat diet if you are overweight
3. Drink bottled water.
Fluoride and a product known as perchlorate, are substances in tap water that may trigger or worsen the risk of thyroid problems
4. Good dietary sources of iodine are seaweed, salt water fish and shellfish.
These foods are recommended for people with underactive thyroids. In general, iodine is well tolerated by the body. Although some sources will caution against high doses, there are many populations in the world which consume large amounts of iodine daily without any ill effects.
5. Excessive soy isoflavones may trigger or worsen hypothyroidism, goiter or nodules
6. Avoid feeding babies soy-based formulas – there is evidence that this can contribute to later risk of thyroid disease
7. Try to give up smoking as it damages the thyroid
8. Try to reduce your stress.
Using mind-body techniques can help to prevent thyroid disease.