Thyroid Goiter Treatment in Tuscaloosa, AL
What Is Goiter?
The thyroid gland is a very important butterfly-shaped organ located in the front of the neck under the Adam's apple. This gland produces the thyroid hormones triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4) to regulate many important metabolic processes, including metabolism, heart rate, and blood pressure.
A goiter is an abnormal enlargement of the thyroid that can be caused by inadequate thyroid hormone production—hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism—as well as diet, injury, genetics, and even infection. Although an enlarged thyroid caused by a goiter is usually painless, thyroid goiters can make breathing and swallowing difficult if they are large enough, making treatment important.
To schedule a consultation with a qualified healthcare practitioner in Tuscaloosa who specializes in thyroid goiter treatment, call (334) 781-7319 or contact Dr. Ryan McWhorter online.
Thyroid Goiter Causes
The causes of thyroid goiters are many, but most have to do with the production of thyroid hormone. There are several different reasons for why a goiter can form:
- Hypothyroidism is a condition where the thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones. It can be caused by a lack of iodine in the body, which is an element necessary for thyroid hormone production. Reacting to the lower thyroid hormone levels, the pituitary gland sends more thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) to the thyroid gland, causing it to swell.
- Hyperthyroidism is a condition where the thyroid gland produces more hormones that usual, subsequently causing the gland to increase in size. This condition can lead to Graves’ disease, a common form of hyperthyroidism in which antibodies released by the immune system attack the thyroid gland.
- Nodes: Some goiters are called nontoxic because they are not caused by hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. Sometimes benign lumps filled with fluid can form on the thyroid gland, causing it to swell. These goiters are called nontoxic or sporadic and might also be caused by medications like lithium, a drug used to treat bipolar disorder.
Other causes for enlarged thyroids include:
- Thyroid cancer
- Changes in hormones (such as during puberty, pregnancy and menopause)
- Abnormal antibodies
Additionally, you might be more at risk of forming a goiter if you are a woman, if you are over the age of 40, or if your family has a history of autoimmune disease, thyroid cancer, or other thyroid-related diseases.
Not all symptoms of goiters are noticeable. If you do experience enlarged thyroid symptoms, they will most likely be:
- Tightness in your throat
- Difficulty swallowing
- Difficulty breathing
For goiters caused by hypothyroidism, patients might experience:
- Weight gain
- An intolerance to cold
For goiters caused by hyperthyroidism, patients might experience:
- Increased appetite
- Weight loss
- Heat hypersensitivity
If you experience any goiter symptoms, it is important to meet with a healthcare practitioner. Your practitioner will likely utilize several tests to help diagnose goiter and determine its cause, including:
- Blood testing to measure thyroid hormone levels
- Antibody testing to identify abnormal antibodies in your system
- Ultrasound imaging to evaluate the size of the goiter and amount of nodules it possesses
- Radioactive iodine uptake (RAIU) testing, which injects a radioactive isotope tracer into the vein on the inside of your elbow to measure how much radioactive iron is taken up by your thyroid gland
- Biopsy to collect a sample of cells from your thyroid gland for further testing
Goiter treatment is dependent upon the size of your goiter, what is causing the goiter, and the symptoms it produces. If the mass is benign, thyroid goiter treatment may not be necessary at all; however, ongoing monitoring is important to ensure the goiter does not worsen. If the mass is related to hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, there are several methods of goiter treatment available to patients, such as medicine, surgery or radioactive iodine.
Medication is often utilized to normalize hormone levels. In cases of hypothyroidism, levothyroxine is typically prescribed to increase thyroid hormone production. In cases of hyperthyroidism, an anti-thyroid medication is sometimes prescribed to prevent your thyroid from producing excess amounts of hormones.
If your thyroid gland is inflamed, your healthcare provider may recommend a corticosteroid medication.
Thyroid Goiter Surgery
An operation called thyroidectomy removes part or all of the thyroid gland. Goiter removal surgeries are done if the goiter has not responded to medicine, if the goiter causes problems with breathing or swallowing, or to treat thyroid cancer.
In certain cases of hyperthyroidism, radioactive iodine is recommended. The iodine is taken orally, where it enters the bloodstream and travels to your thyroid gland. Once there, it destroys the excess tissue in the gland, thus reducing thyroid levels.
Although goiters can be a complex ailment, treating them can be as simple as making a phone call. To schedule a consultation with a qualified healthcare practitioner in Tuscaloosa who specializes in the thyroid gland, call (334) 781-7319 or contact Dr. Ryan McWhorter online.
Alabama Functional Medicine
Address7040 Sydney Curve
Montgomery, AL 36117
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