Goiter can post tremendous complications to health, even death, if left untreated. Untreated goiter can develop into a cancerous mass which in turn can cause death.
Goiter or hypothyroidism first appeared in history during the Tang Dynasty. Chinese physicians treated patients by feeding them with iodine-rich thyroid glands of animals, especially sheep and pigs.
In the 12th century, a Persian Physician provided the first description of Grave’s disease, a form of goiter. He also discovered a relation between goiter and palpitation. This disease was common in areas deficient in iodine in the soil.
Today, goiter is practically nonexistent in first world countries but still present in overpopulated countries like India, China, Central Asia, and Central Africa. But due to modern medicine, goiter is easily treatable.
WHAT IS GOITER?
Goiter is the unusual inflammation of the thyroid gland. This gland is located just below the Adam’s apple at the base of the neck.
The thyroid gland gets inflamed when it does not produce sufficient thyroid hormones. Thyroid hormones are very important in controlling the body’s growth, its repair and the general function of metabolism. If your body lacks this hormone, you would experience fatigue, hair loss, and weight gain. You would also be in a constant chilled state.
Usually painless, it could hinder breathing and could also result in difficulty in swallowing. Thus, would affect the appetite of the impaired.
WHAT CAUSES GOITER?
One of the causes of goiter is due to the lack of iodine in the soil. Iodine would also be missing in the general diet of that population.
In the United States, the most common cause would be the overproduction or underproduction of the thyroid hormones. Some instances, nodules develop in the thyroid gland.
About 90% of hypothyroidism is caused by Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, a disease where the immune system attacks the thyroid gland.
Other causes might be genetics, an effect of taking a particular medication and surgery that might have removed part of the thyroid.
WHAT ARE THE TYPES OF GOITER?
There are 2 types of goiter:
- Diffuse goiter
- the whole thyroid swells
- the surface of the thyroid is smooth
- Nodular goiter
- lumps develop inside the thyroid gland, solid or with fluids inside
- the thyroid gland itself would feel lumpy
- it could be a solitary lump or numerous lumps
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF GOITER?
Studies show that this disease affects 1 to 2% of the whole population around the world.
Women are more affected by this disease than men but the reasons are not definitive. Some say that it is in relation to the estrogen level of women. But what is definite is the effect of a goiter on the reproductive system of women. Hypothyroidism affects fertility, menstruation and causes miscarriage and even osteoporosis.
Symptoms vary depending on the severity of the case. The disease can develop slowly over the years. You may not notice it at first. You might initially feel tired and might feel that you have gained weight that might be attributed to age. But as the months pass by, other symptoms might appear.
Here are some that you might watch out for:
- Feeling cold all the time
- Difficulty in your morning constitutionn4n3
- Unhealthy skin
- Weight gain
- Bloated face
- Joint pains
- Aching muscles
- Irregular flow of menstruation
- Falling hair
HOW TO DIAGNOSE GOITER?
Diagnosing hypothyroidism might be as simple as the doctor feeling your neck and asking you to swallow. He might even be able to feel if you have nodules on your throat area.
But some test might also be needed such, as a hormone test. A hormone test involves testing your blood to check the number of hormones produced by your thyroid glands. If your hormones are low that would mean your thyroid is not functioning well.
Other tests might include testing your antibodies. The disease might involve the production of irregular antibodies. Some instances, ultrasonography, a thyroid scan or a biopsy might also be needed.
Be sure to enlist the help of a medical professional to diagnose the disease right away. There is no point in waiting for the disease to worsen before you seek medical help.
HOW TO TREAT GOITER?
Treatment depends on the size of your goiter, the symptoms that you have and the apparent cause of the disease. Some doctors might recommend the following treatments:
- To observe first, especially if the goiter is still small and is not posing any problems on your health.
- Medications might be given.
- If you have difficulty in breathing and swallowing, surgery might be the best option especially if the disease might be seen as a precursor to cancer.
WHAT ARE THE NUTRIENTS NEEDED WHEN YOU HAVE GOITER?
Whatever treatment is chosen for you, one thing is sure. Your body is lacking in Iodine. So add iodine salt into your diet. You might also supplement it by eating fish, dairy or egg.
You might also take the mineral Selenium to help activate the thyroid hormones. Selenium also has antioxidants which will help repair your damaged glands. Foods that are rich in Selenium are tuna, sardines and Brazil nuts.
Another mineral, Zinc, is needed to help in activating the thyroid hormones. You can mostly find Zinc in oysters, beef or chicken.
Whatever minerals you need, wait until your doctor prescribes it. Too much of these minerals might damage your liver.
CAN GOITER TURN TO CANCER?
As mentioned above, goiter if left untreated can turn to cancer which in turn can be deadly. Most of the tumors are benign but some are malignant.
Here are some types of thyroid cancer:
Papillary cancer – tend to grow slowly and develop in only one lobe of the gland.
Follicular cancer – the second most common type of thyroid cancer and may spread into the lungs and bones.
Medullary thyroid cancer is the most difficult to threat among all the types of thyroid cancer.
Anaplastic thyroid cancer is another thyroid cancer that is difficult to treat. It spreads to the neck and other parts of the body.
Just like any other disease, Goiter should be treated once diagnosed. You might be experiencing just a couple of symptoms but do not ignore it. Visit your doctor right away to make sure that what your feeling is not just due to tiredness but have an underlying medical reason.
Remember that goiter, if left untreated, might pose a worse implication than what you think. It is always better to err on the safe side than to be faced with a direr situation later on.