Thyroid gland is one of the important glands in our body which secretes thyroid hormones. When the thyroid gland grows bigger than the normal size this condition is called thyromegaly or goiter. Thyroid gland is shaped like a butterfly and is located in the lower portion of the neck just below the Adam’s apple. Thyromegaly is more common in females than males. Several causes like family history, iodine deficiency, prolonged intake of certain medications and hypothyroidism can lead to goiter. It causes symptoms like swelling of neck, coughing, breathing problems and difficulty in eating/drinking. Thyromegaly can be treated by surgery or hormone replacement therapy.
The under-mentioned signs of thyromegaly are common but it is not mandatory for all the people to have these symptoms. The intensity of symptoms varies on the extent of enlargement of thyroid gland and hence there will be difference in symptoms. Thyromegaly can cause stiffness in the throat region accompanied by change in voice and consistent cough.
Swelling of neck can be visibly seen due to enlarged thyroid gland. It can cause difficulty in swallowing and drinking if the gland becomes big in size. In rare cases thyromegaly can cause breathing problems. In more severe cases, it can cause symptoms like headache, dizziness and vomiting sensation. The swollen neck can alter the way you speak normally.
Thyromegaly can develop due to hereditary factor. If any of your family member or close relative has this problem you have high risk of developing thyromegaly. Insufficient iodine intake can lead to enlargement of thyroid gland. A person who takes little or no iodine is more prone to get thyromegaly than others. Prolonged intake of medications like lithium or cobalt can cause thyromegaly. Old age can increase the risk of getting thyroid problems.
Grave’s disease can cause hyperthyroidism wherein the body’s own immune system would attack thyroid gland. This condition can cause enlargement of gland. Similarly low production of thyroid hormones can lead to swelling of thyroid gland. Thyroid cancer and inflammation of thyroid gland (thyroiditis) can cause thyromegaly.
Risk Factors :
Females have more chances for developing thyromegaly than males, for reasons unknown. A person with family history of goiter or those who takes very little iodine or who includes more of cabbage/peanuts in his diet, or an individual who is under lithium or cobalt drugs for long period have increased chance for getting thyromegaly.
Your doctor would examine the throat region thoroughly checking for inflammation or swelling of throat. He would request for blood test to determine the levels of thyroxine T3 and T4. If necessary CT scan would be done to know the clear position of swelling of thyroid gland.
No treatment is required for thyromegaly if the swelling of thyroid gland is mild and no lumps are formed. The doctor would suggest taking suitable doses of iodine if the symptoms of thyromegaly have developed due to low levels of iodine. For more serious symptoms treatment should be given. Suppression therapy is the first line treatment for thyromegaly. It is a time consuming process in which secretion of levothyroxine is reduced.
The patient should take prescribed treatment and follow the instructions of the doctor and be committed to the process to achieve good result. In case thyromegaly has developed due to low secretion of thyroid hormones then suitable replacement of thyroid hormone is done. It can either be done by radiation therapy or by surgery. If the lump or swelling of gland is due to cancerous cells your doctor will confirm the result by doing a biopsy and give suitable radioactive treatment.