/ Thyroid
Enlarged Thyroid

Enlarged Thyroid

How to Diagnose and Treat an Enlarged Thyroid

An enlarged thyroid can wreak havoc on your entire body. Both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can cause an enlargement of the thyroid. This condition manifests as noticeable swelling in the neck. It is commonly known as a goiter.

The swelling is not always caused by inflammation of the thyroid. Certain goiters come about because of an extreme iodine deficiency, but this also is connected to thyroid function.

We'll be walking through a complete look at what causes an enlarged thyroid and what you can do to find effective treatment.

Hyperthyroidism & an Enlarged Thyroid

Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland overproduces thyroxine T4. With too much T4, the body's metabolism speeds up which leads to countless complications and an array of symptoms. The most common symptoms include:

  • an elevated heart rate
  • heart palpitations & arrhythmias
  • anxiety
  • irritability
  • sweating
  • changes in bowel habits
  • brittle hair & nails.

Long-term untreated hyperthyroidism can cause an enlarged thyroid. The most common root cause is inflammation, however, Grave's Disease and hyper-functional thyroid nodules can both cause swelling as well.

Hypothyroidism & an Enlarged Thyroid

Hypothyroidism occurs when there is a deficiency of thyroxine T4 and triiodothyronine T3. The body creates each hormone by synthesizing iodine and tyrosine. Both are vital for regulating the body’s metabolism.

An under-active thyroid can result in symptoms including:

  • persistent fatigue
  • increased cold sensitivity
  • dry skin
  • weight gain
  • puffiness
  • elevated cholesterol
  • muscle aches & tenderness
  • joint pain
  • irregular menstruation
  • decreased cardiovascular function.

Most symptoms only manifest in middle-aged women, although anyone can develop hypothyroidism. The leading cause of hypothyroidism is Hashimoto's Disease.

The constant stimulation of the thyroid, triggering more hormone production (as is common in long-term suffers), can result in an enlarged thyroid. A range of other complications can also plague sufferers ranging from mental fog to peripheral neuropathy and in severe cases the life-threatening condition – Myxedema.

Treatment Options

Both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism are treatable using thyroid medications and dietary/lifestyle changes. The specific cause of enlarged thyroid will determine which medication is needed.

Common hyperthyroidism medications include antithyroid drugs like Tapazole. These medications stop the thyroid from producing hormones. At times, a large dose of iodine is given in pill form. However, this is a harsh treatment used in dire cases because of the potential damage to the thyroid gland.

Hypothyroidism medications include synthetic hormone replacements such as Levo-T, Synthroid and Eltroxin. These treatments help restore your T4 and T3 levels, bringing your metabolism back into balance.

Get Treatment for an Enlarged Thyroid

The right medication and proper diet, combined with regular exercise, can correct an enlarged thyroid while solving your long-term issues. Book an appointment with an online PlushCare doctor to discuss your symtpoms, get refered for proper testing, and ultimately get diagnosed and prescribed medication. With regular attention and ongoing medication refills, all patients can lead normal lives with no further complications.

Read More About Thyroid Disorders

Doctor on phone

Leah McCabe

Leah likes writing about health and science subjects. Through her writing she hopes to help people of all backgrounds have equal access to information and quality healthcare.

Read More