10 Goiter Symptoms

By nigel
Reviewed: Dr. Gromatzky
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A goiter is a problem that affects the thyroid gland. The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped organ that’s found near the bottom of the neck, and a goiter occurs when the thyroid gland becomes enlarged. Goiters aren’t usually painful, but if they become big enough, they can lead to problems swallowing. In some serious cases, they can lead to breathing issues. There are a number of smaller symptoms that can occur with a goiter, as well as some more serious complications that we’ll discuss below.

The thyroid gland is incredibly important for the functioning of our body. It helps to produce hormones that are involved in our metabolism and many other bodily functions. When the thyroid produces too many hormones (a condition known as hyperthyroidism) or too few hormones (known as hypothyroidism) a goiter can occur as a result. Having a goiter doesn’t necessarily mean that your thyroid gland can’t produce enough hormones, however. There are other problems that can contribute to the development of a goiter, such as a family history of autoimmune disease, smoking, being pregnant, or receiving radiation therapy. Unfortunately, women are more likely to develop a goiter than men, as are people over the age of 40.

If you’re worried about whether or not you have a goiter, then reading this list of symptoms might help you determine your next course of action. If you think that you do have a goiter, you can go to the doctor and get some tests done. Hormone tests, antibody tests, ultrasounds, and thyroid scans can all help determine whether or not you have a goiter.

Symptom #1: Swelling

Swelling is the most common and obvious symptom of a goiter. However, just because you are experiencing swelling at the base of the neck does not necessarily mean that you are suffering from a goiter. There are a number of conditions and problems that can contribute to swelling in the neck.

That said, if you are experiencing swelling in conjunction with several of the other symptoms on this list, you may want to let your doctor know that you suspect the presence of a goiter. They can help you from there.


Symptom #2: Tightness in the Throat

As the goiter grows larger and larger, patients tend to experience a degree of tightness in the throat. This tightness can be hard to notice at first, and many people with small goiters don’t experience any tightness at all.

However, people with more serious goiters might experience tightness that becomes quite uncomfortable. It can impede a person’s ability to speak and breathe.

Symptom #3: Difficulty Breathing

As mentioned before, a goiter can expand and lead to tightness in the throat as it grows bigger and bigger. If a goiter gets too big, it can actually press up against the trachea—the tube that oxygen passes through on the way to the lungs.

If this occurs, then it can be more difficult for someone to easily inhale oxygen. This can lead to various breathing difficulties and can actually lead to someone not getting enough oxygen into their blood.


Symptom #4: Hoarse Voice

People who have developed a large goiter may experience a hoarse or rasping voice. This can occur if the goiter becomes large enough to put pressure on the vocal chords, which are used to produce the clarity and vibration necessary for us to project our voice.

If there is too much pressure applied to the vocal cords then it can become more difficult for someone to express themselves properly or audibly.

Symptom #5: Coughing

If you have developed a goiter then you may also experience a cough. The cough can be rather mild but in the case of a serious goiter, it can become quite severe.

Coughing usually accompanies some of the other symptoms, such as hoarseness and difficulty breathing.


Symptom #6: Difficulty Swallowing

If a goiter becomes large enough, it can cause problems in the throat area. By pushing on the esophagus, goiters can make it more difficult to swallow.

Fortunately, a goiter will rarely become so large that it will make it impossible to swallow. However, they can certainly make it uncomfortable to swallow large portions of food or drink. One of the best ways to work around this is to chew smaller portions and take smaller sips; however, sometimes swallowing can be unpleasant regardless.

Symptom #7: Dizziness

Sometimes, people who are struggling with a goiter report various degrees of dizziness, ranging from mild to quite severe.

These attacks of dizziness usually do not last very long, and are generally more present when the person has their arms raised above their head or is lying in a position that causes blood to rush to the head.


Symptom #8: Swollen Neck Veins

One of the more visible symptoms of a goiter is swelling in the neck veins. The veins in the neck, such as the jugular, can become quite enlarged. Many people find this to be unsightly. This usually occurs in addition to some of the other symptoms, such as swelling.

This can occur if the goiter presses upon one or more of the veins in the neck, making it more difficult for blood to travel through the area. This can enlarge the blood vessel.

Symptom #9: Fatigue

A regular goiter generally won’t cause fatigue. However, if you are experiencing a goiter that emerged as a result of a thyroid problem such as hypothyroidism, it’s possible that you will experience complications from the condition such as fatigue.

In this case, fatigue can make it more difficult for someone to complete their day-to-day tasks because they will be tired and unable to function at their optimal level.

Symptom #10: Insomnia

Another problem that can emerge with a goiter caused by hyper- or hypothyroidism is insomnia. Insomnia is a condition in which a person has a hard time getting to sleep, which can lead to sleep deprivation and the related symptoms like irritability and anxiety.

Goiter-related anxiety can usually be treated with herbal, over-the-counter medicines. Many natural medicines can also combat inflammation and reduce the size of the goiter.


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