Thyroid Goiter


  • A thyroid goiter is a condition where your thyroid gland slowly gets big. The thyroid gland is a small, butterfly-shaped organ found in the front of your neck. It makes thyroid hormones (special chemicals) that help control how your body works. When you have a goiter, the amount of thyroid hormones in your body may be normal, increased or decreased. Your thyroid goiter may be diffuse, nodular, retrosternal or substernal. There is a small chance that your thyroid goiter may be cancer. With thyroid goiter, you may often cough or choke, or have a flushed face and swollen neck veins. You may see a lump in your neck, have trouble breathing and swallowing, or have a hoarse voice.

  • Thyroid goiters are most often caused by having too little or no iodine in your diet. With low iodine in your body, being pregnant, smoking cigarettes or eating certain foods may increase your risk. You are more likely to have a goiter if others in your family have one. A thyroid goiter may also be caused by certain medicines, or other thyroid disorders. You may need an ultrasound, thyroid scan, biopsy, computed tomography (CT) scan, x-ray, and blood tests. A goiter may be treated with iodine, thyroid medicines, ethanol injection, or surgery. Small goiters may not need any treatment. Having your goiter checked by a caregiver will help him know if you need treatment. Treating a thyroid goiter may decrease it's size, and make your symptoms go away. It can also help caregivers learn if you have other medical problems related to or causing your goiter.


Take your medicine as directed.

Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

  • Radioactive iodine: This medicine damages cells in your thyroid gland, decreasing the amount of thyroid hormone in your blood. This may help your body work better. After taking radioactive iodine, your thyroid gland may still make too much or not enough hormone. If this happens, you may still need to take thyroid medicine.

  • Thyroid medicines: These medicines are given to replace, increase, or decrease your thyroid hormone levels. They may also be given to decrease symptoms such as choking.

Ask for information about where and when to go for follow-up visits:

For continuing care, treatments, or home services, ask for more information.

  • You may need to have blood drawn regularly if you had thyroid surgery or are taking thyroid medicines. This is to make sure your thyroid hormone levels stay normal. This is also done to help prevent your thyroid goiter from coming back.

Diet changes:

Eat a variety of healthy foods such as fruits, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meat and fish. You may need to eat foods rich in iodine. Iodine is an important mineral used by the thyroid gland to make thyroid hormones. Ask your caregiver for a list of foods that contain iodine. You may need to use iodized salt when cooking and seasoning your food. Ask your caregiver if you need to be on a special diet.

Quit smoking:

It is never too late to quit smoking. If you have an autoimmune thyroid disorder, smoking can cause a thyroid goiter. Smoking also harms your heart, lungs, and blood. You are also more likely to have a heart attack, lung disease, and cancer if you smoke. You will help yourself and those around you by not smoking. Ask your caregiver for more information about how to stop smoking if you are having trouble quitting.


  • You cough often, or feel like you are choking.

  • You have new symptoms of thyroid goiter.

  • Your voice becomes hoarse or you have trouble swallowing.

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition, treatment, or care.


  • You have chest pain, or trouble breathing all of a sudden.

  • You start seeing things that are not there.

  • Your symptoms suddenly get worse become worse, even after taking your medicines.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Thyroid Goiter (Aftercare Instructions)