Does swelling of the thyroid mean you are suffering from either hypo or hyper thyroidism? No. Having an enlarged thyroid does not necessarily mean that you have either one the conditions. An enlarged thyroid or goiter is the most common thyroid disorder affecting mostly women than men. A goiter can happen for several reasons, including genetics, suppression of the auto-immune system or extrinsic influences.
A goiter is that mass or enlarged portion of the lower part of a person's neck in the front. Most goiters that do not cause thyroid problems are called non-toxic goiters. In some cases they can be associated with hypo or hyper thyroidism. Patients with goiter or an enlarged thyroid gland often feel a pressure on their windpipe, and they may have difficulty in breathing because of the pressure or swallowing. Non-toxic goiter is the most common type that affects women during adolescence, menopause and pregnancy when increased hormones are required by the body but the demand for them is not met. There are two kinds of non-toxic goiters: endemic and sporadic. Endemic goiter is usually associated with iodine deficiency in the diet. Sporadic goiter is more random and is caused by higher levels of goitrogenic foods or certain drugs. When foods such as spinach, cabbage, soybeans, peas, peaches, radishes, strawberries or rutabagas and drugs such as iodides, cobalt, or lithium are consumed in higher quantities, a sporadic goiter may be formed.
Symptoms of a non-toxic or enlarged goiter are: raspy or noisy breath that comes as a result of pressure of the gland on the windpipe, respiratory distress, dysphagia or syncope. Treatments usually consist of diet changes, hormone replacements, radiation or surgery to remove the goiter. Sometimes it might take months or even years to cure enlarged thyroid.
Graves disease is a form of hyperthyroidism that is caused by abnormal antibodies that make the thyroid gland work hard to produce more thyroid hormone, making the gland enlarged. This is more common in teenage girls and young or middle aged women.