The thyroid is a part of the body that regulates the metabolic rate and produces hormones that affect many other important parts of the body. Various things can affect the functioning of the thyroid and make it work too fast, slow, or not at all. One thyroid-related condition that is more common than you may think is goiter.
This article covers the topic of goiter, including its causes, symptoms, and suggestions for natural treatments.
Causes of Goiter
There are a few different factors that can cause a person to have goiter, but a deficiency in iodine is the most common one. The thyroid requires iodine to function properly, and without it, the thyroid has to work extra hard and becomes swollen. Colloid goiter is one type of goiter linked to low iodine levels in the body.
People who have Graves’ disease are likely to develop goiter because this condition makes the thyroid produce an excess amount of hormones. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is a condition marked by the opposite problem since people with this disease don’t make enough thyroid hormone in their bodies. Thyroid cancer and noncancerous cysts known as nodules can also cause goiter. Toxic nodular goiter is a type of goiter with nodules that produce thyroid hormones and cause hyperthyroidism. Meanwhile, nontoxic goiter typically results from taking lithium medication for a mood disorder.
Symptoms of Goiter
The most telltale sign of goiter is a noticeable bulge or swelling in the neck. You may also have trouble breathing or swallowing when you have goiter. Hoarseness of the voice, coughing, and dizziness are other common symptoms of goiter.
Women are more likely to get goiter than men, especially women over the age of 40. Women who are pregnant or going through menopause are also more likely to have goiter, perhaps due to changing hormone levels. People of all backgrounds who have a family history of thyroid issues are at an increased risk of goiter as well.
Natural Goiter Treatments
Many people are diagnosed with and seek treatment for goiter after seeing a doctor with concerns of neck swelling. A thyroid scan and blood tests can often diagnose the condition; however, a biopsy or ultrasound may be necessary as well.
Goiter is often treated with corticosteroid medications that reduce swelling, but a serious goiter condition sometimes requires a type of surgery called a thyroidectomy. Yet some goiter conditions are very minor and don’t require any treatment whatsoever.
You can do certain things at home to prevent and treat minor goiter, such as getting more iodine in your diet if a deficiency is to blame for your goiter. The best sources of dietary iodine are seafood, seaweed, and iodized salt. Other ways to naturally boost your thyroid health include eating a diet that’s high in protein and low in fat, drinking plenty of water, giving up smoking, and reducing your stress levels.