A goitre (or goiter) (Latin struma) is a swelling in the neck (just below adam's apple or larynx) due to an enlarged thyroid gland. They are classified in different ways: more...
- A "diffuse goitre" is a goitre that has spread through all of the thyroid (and is contrasted with a "simple goitre", "single thyroid nodule" and "multinodular goitre".
- "Toxic goitre" refers to goitre deriving from inflammation, neoplasm, or malfunction of the thyroid, while "nontoxic goitre" refers to all other types (such as that caused by lithium or an autoimmune reaction.)
The most common cause for goitre in the world is iodine deficiency (E01). Other causes are:
- Hashimoto's thyroiditis (E06.3)
- Graves-Basedow disease (E05.0)
- juvenile goitre due to congenital hypothyroidism (E03.0)
- neoplasm of the thyroid
- thyroiditis (acute, chronic) (E06)
- side-effects of pharmacological therapy (E03.2)
Iodine is necessary for the synthesis of the thyroid hormones, triiodothyronine and thyroxine (T3 and T4). When iodine is not available, these hormones cannot be made. In response to low thyroid hormones, the pituitary gland releases thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). Thyroid stimulating hormone acts to try and increase synthesis of T3 and T4, but it also causes the thyroid gland to grow in size as a type of compensation.
Goitre is more common among women. Treatment may not be necessary if the goitre is not caused by disease and is small. Removal of the goitre may be necessary if it causes difficulty with breathing or swallowing.
History and future
Goitre was previously common in many areas that were deficient in iodine in the soil. (For example, in the English Midlands, the condition was known as Derbyshire Neck). The condition now is practically absent in affluent nations, where table salt is supplemented with iodine.
Some health workers fear that a resurgence of goitre might occur because of the trend to use rock salt and/or sea salt, which has not been fortified with iodine.
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