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Thyromegaly

Definition

The thyroid gland is responsible in producing thyroid hormone.


It is butterfly shaped and located just below the Adam’s apple in male and in the lower part of the neck in female. A thyroid gland that grows out of control could lead to a condition called thyromegaly or popularly known as goiter.

Thyroid hormone should always be in normal number. Too much or too little thyroid hormone have a direct effect on your body. Thyromegaly is a sign of thyroid hormone imbalance. (1)

Thyromegaly Causes

  • Goiter is a condition that runs in the family. If any of your family member has goiter, most likely you are at also at risk.
  • Not having enough iodine in the body could lead to thyromegaly.
  • Some drugs increases your risk for thyromegaly such as cobalt and lithium.
  • Some medical conditions could lead to thyroid problems such as Graves’ disease, Hashimoto’s disease, multinodular goiter, and thyroid cancer.
  • Pregnancy can sometimes cause imbalance in the thyroid hormone. (1, 2)

 

Image 1 : A comparison image of a healthy thyroid gland and a thyroid gland with goiter/thyromegaly
Picture Source : 3.bp.blogspot.com

 

Photo 2 : The anatomy of the thyroid gland
Picture Source : allideaz.com

Image 3 : Foods rich in iodine, which are essential in the treatment, management, and prevention of thyromegaly
Picture Source : waytowellness.co.za

Who are prone to thyromegaly?

Women are more prone to goiter than men. It can affect at any age, but older people, especially 40 years old and above are at high risk.

Types of Goiter

  1. Hyperthyroid – The thyroid hormone level is more than the usual, which leads to the enlargement of the thyroid gland.
  2. Euthyroid – This type of goiter does not alter the functions of the thyroid gland, but the mass in the thyroid gland grows bigger and bigger. On the positive note, the mass is not cancerous and does not have any clinical manifestations. (2, 3)
  3. Hypothyroid – The number of thyroid hormone produced by the thyroid gland is not enough. As a result, the thyroid gland grows in the collarbone. There are classes of hypothyroid. They are:
  • Diffuse goiter – The mass convers the entire thyroid gland.
  • Non-toxic goiter – It significantly lowers the function of the thyroid gland.
  • Toxic goiter – The mass in the thyroid gland is bigger than the average size.(3)

What are the clinical manifestations?

Symptoms vary depending on the extent of swelling. The typical thyromegaly symptoms include the following:

  • Swelling on the lower part of the neck
  • Stiffness in the throat area
  • Coughing and gradual change in the quality of voice
  • Swallowing and drinking difficulty, especially if the thyroid gland is enlarged
  • The gland swells, which makes the patient susceptible to choking
  • In severe cases, the patient will have breathing difficulties
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Mild fever
  • Bad breath (3, 4,6)

Diagnosis

If you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above, then you should consult your doctor. The doctor will conduct a thorough assessment including a series of tests and diagnostic procedures to determine the root cause of the problem and to be able to come up with the best possible remedy.

Thyromegaly ultrasound is ordered. This procedure will enable the doctor to see the level of iodine in the body.

Ultrasound can only detect the different type of mass in the thyroid gland. Using the ultrasound alone is not enough to tell if the mass is cancerous of benign. Other laboratory test should be performed such as T4 or free thyroxine test, T3, and thyroid stimulating hormone or TSH. The thyroid stimulating hormone test measures the amount of thyroid hormone in the blood. (6, 7)

Thyromegaly Treatment

If the goiter is small and non-cancerous, treating it might not be necessary at all. Why? Well, small and non-cancerous goiter does not cause any problem at all. You will just have the lump, but aside from that, you will not have any alarming symptoms. On the other hand, if you are suffering from malignant goiter, it is a must to treat the condition right away. Not treating the condition right away could lead to further damage and harm to your health.

To determine the right treatment and management approach, the doctor will thoroughly examine the area around the throat. The doctor will examine the severity and extent of swelling and inflammation. TheT3 and T4 level will be measured via blood work. Depending on the result of the blood work, the doctor might order a CT scan to determine the location of swelling. (7, 8,9)

The typical treatments for thyromegaly include the following:

  • Thyroid replacement therapy – These are drugs used to treat hypothyroidism. They are available in synthetic and natural form. Natural thyroid hormone such as Armor Thyroid and Nature-Throid are derived from beef or pork. Synthetic versions include Synthroid, Levoxyl, Levothroid Cytomel, and Triostat. Thyrolar contains a mixture of T3 and T4, but in the synthetic form.
  • Ethanol Infusion – Small goiter usually diminishes in time, but there are instances when it grows big and causes discomfort. If you have an enlargement of the thyroid which is not associated with cancer, ethanol infusion can help.
  • Medications – There are drugs that can reduce the size of the thyroid significantly. A perfect example of such drugs is methimazole. (7, 8,9)

How to manage thyromegaly symptoms at home?

  • Neck exercise – Exercising the neck such as simple stretching can help broaden the neck muscles near the thyroid gland.
  • Dandelion leaves – The leaves of dandelion can help reduce swelling on the neck area. Just heat a few dandelion leaves and apply on the neck area.
  • Pineapple – Adding pineapple to your diet can help a lot in the symptomatic relief of goiter.
  • Watercress/Scurvy grass – Adding watercress in your diet can help a lot in improving the symptom of thyromegaly. It is rich in iodine, antioxidants, and essential vitamins. It contains minerals like germanium and sulfur.
  • Garlic – Adding garlic in your diet can help reduce swelling and improves the production of glutathione, which is needed in maintaining a healthy thyroid gland. It is also beneficial in other parts of the body because of its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Increase the intake of iodine rich foods – A deficiency in iodine is one of the contributing factors for thyromegaly. Hence, it is important to increase the intake of iodine rich foods such as seafood, kelp, yogurt, cabbage, mild, shrimp, egg, baked potato with peel, tuna, and navy beans. (8, 9,10)

References:

  1. health-benefits-of.net
  2. symptomscausestreatment.com
  3. diseasespictures.com
  4. medicalpoint.org
  5. healthinstant.net
  6. www.medicineonline.com
  7. healthsaline.com
  8. www.medhelp.org
  9. healthresearchfunding.org
  10. http://homeremediesforlife.com

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