A goitre refers to abnormal enlargement of the thyroid that causes swelling and discomfort. It is associated with a visible lump around the throat, or a band of swelling around the base of the neck.
What is a Goitre?
Depending on the severity, a goitre may be painless. However, if there is significant swelling it causes problems with swallowing and breathing.
Here is a list of the most common symptoms associated with a goitre;
- a noticeable lump in the throat area
- swelling around the front of the neck
- a band of swelling around the base of the throat
- a constant feeling of a lump in the throat
- trouble drinking and swallowing food
- hoarseness of the voice or difficultly speaking
- breathing problems due to swelling
- dizziness when arms are raised above the head
- visible veins in the neck
- hypothyroid symptoms
Worldwide goitre is one of the earliest and most visible signs of an iodine deficiency.
Goitres are also associated with nodules on the thyroid and autoimmune thyroid disorders such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. In some circumstances a goitre can develop due to thyroid cancer.
Any type of abnormal swelling in the neck or throat should be checked by your healthcare practitioner. The underlying causes can be investigated using a number of tests including; a physical examination, thyroid lab tests, and other medical tests.
Thyroid ultrasound has become an extension of a physical examination and should be performed in all individuals with goitre. Furthermore, a thyroid ultrasound can determine if there are nodules that should be further investigated.
Treatment depends on the underlying causes. For this reason, it’s best to work with a skilled healthcare practitioner who will consider all aspects of your physical, emotional, and mental health.
Iodine is a Mighty Mineral for the Thyroid
The thyroid has the highest concentration of iodine as the body stores iodine in this important endocrine gland. In fact, approximately 80% of the body’s iodine stores are located within the thyroid gland.
Iodine is essential for ongoing thyroid hormone production. To meet demand for these life-sustaining thyroid hormones the thyroid gland acts as a ‘sponge’ to closely regulate iodine uptake from the blood. If there is a drop in iodine intake the thyroid struggles to manufacture sufficient thyroid hormones. As a consequence, one of the earliest signs of an iodine deficiency is swelling in the throat. The thyroid enlarges in an attempt to trap what little iodine it can from the blood supply.
Low iodine intake has become widespread and has become a significant public health issue. As you may know, the body is not able to make iodine so a steady supply of this nutrient must be obtained from dietary sources, or when necessary from an iodine supplement.
Sources of Dietary Iodine
Most of the planets iodine is found in the ocean. This makes foods sourced from the ocean the richest sources of iodine. This includes a wide variety of seaweeds and seafood.
Iodine is also found in iodised salt and foods that are fortified with iodine such as bread and breakfast cereals. Vegetables contain variable amounts as the iodine content is dependent on how much iodine is in the soil that they are grown in. The older an exposed soil surface, the more likely the iodine has been leached away by erosion. This is a particular issue in Australia and New Zealand.
Iodine supplements are generally considered safe, and effective when taken as recommended to correct an iodine deficiency.
You can read more on this topic here: How Much Iodine Is Safe To Take Daily? How Much Do You Really Need?