You may have heard of a goiter, but have you ever seen one? Do you understand how it occurs?
A goiter condition, known as thyromegaly, is a treatable disorder; but if left alone, it can lead to serious complications.
Many enlarged thyroid gland cases go unnoticed by others, while certain growth stages will protrude below the Adam’s apple on the neck. We discuss what causes thyromegaly and natural at-home treatments.
What Is Thyromegaly (Goiter)?
So, what is a goiter? This term refers to the thyroid gland when it becomes a larger size than normal. The thyroid gland is responsible for producing hormones to regulate the production of protein, calcium levels, and your metabolism of carbohydrates and fats. It also helps to control body temperature and affects the heart rate when at rest.
Thyroid enlargement can occur due to several internal health factors, which we will uncover. The thyroid gland swelling develops whether the presence of thyroid hormones is too little or too much of the regular level. It can be a difficult balance.
Since the level of iodine in the body plays a major role in the functioning of the thyroid gland, a computerized tomography scan is used to detect thyromegaly. This imaging test will confirm the tissue mass and iodine levels only; it will not show if the mass is cancerous or not.
Other laboratory tests may include a free thyroxine test (known as T4), ultrasound, Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (or TSH test), or perhaps undergo a T3 test.
What Causes an Enlarged Thyroid?
Goiter causes usually have a link to iodine levels, or the lack of it, within the body. It mostly affects underdeveloped countries as people living in the U.S. get more than enough iodized salt daily. The link between the thyroid gland and iodine comes from the need for iodine to produce sufficient hormones.
With low levels, the thyroid gland receives a message from the brain’s pituitary gland with a signal referred to as TSH, or the thyroid stimulating hormone. This particular hormone stimulates the thyroid to increase in size, creating a goiter.
Since the iodine levels are not a concern in the United States, we can turn to the country’s most common cause of thyromegaly, which is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. An autoimmune disease, this damages the thyroid gland to the point where it produces insufficient levels of hormones. It is detected by the pituitary gland, which stimulates the production of the TSH, causing the thyroid to grow and result in a goiter.
Graves’ disease is another common cause of a goiter. This condition creates a double problem with the thyroid, as a protein known as thyroid stimulating immunoglobulin (TSI) induces growth of the thyroid gland. Also, the TSI may cause hyperthyroidism as it stimulates the thyroid to increase hormone production, despite the pituitary gland halting TSH production.
Thyromegaly is related to the condition known as multinodular goiters. As the name implies, there is more than one nodule on the thyroid gland, and it can grow in size over time.
Other causes of a goiter or thyromegaly include:
- Genetics (appears to be hereditary)
- Certain medications, such as lithium or cobalt
- Thyroid cancer
- Inflammation of thyroid
- Infections affecting the thyroid
- Age (those over the age of 40 are at a higher risk)
Thyromegaly (Goiter) Symptoms
As with many conditions, thyromegaly symptoms vary from patient to patient. Depending on the size, rate of growth, and the presence of any other health conditions, the symptoms range from mild to extreme.
Enlarged thyroid symptoms may include:
- A nodule in neck
- Difficulty swallowing
- Persistent cough
- Stiffness within the throat
- Voice changes
- Swelling of neck
- Difficulty breathing
- Bad breath
Treatments for Thyromegaly (Goiter)
There are cases requiring medical treatment, especially if the nodules are cancerous. These can include thyroid hormone replacement, levothyroxine suppressive therapy, and ethanol infusion.
Several home remedies may also help with thyromegaly treatment.
If by chance your iodine levels are low, you can increase the iodine needed by following a diet with 150 micrograms of iodine daily.
Consume navy beans, baked potato skin, kale, yogurt, cow’s milk, eggs, tuna, shrimp, seafood, cod, turkey, and cranberries.
In addition to having iodine content, kelp stabilizes thyroid function. This form of seaweed contains potassium, magnesium, calcium, and iron.
Incorporate kelp into your diet by using it as a topping for salads, casseroles, and soup. You can also add one to two tablespoons of dried kelp powder to a smoothie or glass of juice.
Another great iodine source is watercress, which also is a great choice for essential nutrients. It contains sulfur, antioxidants, and germanium.
Use it as a topical application directly on your neck as a paste. Grind the watercress and leave it on the swollen portion of the neck for 15 to 20 minutes. Repeat once each day for 10 days.
You can also get the same benefit by mixing two tablespoons of watercress juice with water. Drink this solution three times each day for six weeks.
An ancient goiter treatment uses the leaves of dandelion to alleviate swelling and discomfort.
Crush some dandelion leaves into a paste-like substance and add two teaspoons of clarified butter. Heat the paste and apply it directly on the swelling on the neck for a 15-minute treatment.
You can also use two to three dandelion leaves with clarified butter spread on one side of the leaves. Warm it up and place it on the goiter. Wrap with gauze and leave it for three hours. Repeat either treatment for two weeks at least once per day.
You may be able to reduce the swelling of the goiter with the use of garlic. Add it your meals or chew three or four pieces of raw garlic each day.
6. Green Tea
Use the antioxidants and fluoride in green tea to help treat thyromegaly. Drink three cups each day and have one cup a day to prevent this condition.
Other home treatments and lifestyle tips to help with thyromegaly include:
- Limiting goitrogenic foods such as radishes, spinach, and cabbage
- Having a cold shower twice each day to stimulate the gland
- Avoiding processed foods, caffeine, and alcohol
- Having several meals a day
- Exercising regularly
- Using coconut oil to prepare meals
Thyromegaly is a common condition, especially among those with pre-existing conditions such as Graves’ disease and those with family members with a goiter. The symptoms, aside from a large bump or swelling of the neck, can range from mild to severe. Rare cases can become cancerous and require specialized medical treatment.
For the rest of the population with a goiter, there are natural home remedies that may help alleviate the symptoms and reduce the swelling.
Sureka, “Thyromegaly,” Diseases Pictures, July 20, 2015; http://diseasespictures.com/thyromegaly/, last accessed June 7, 2017.
“Goiter,” Medline Plus; https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/001178.htm, last accessed June 7, 2017.
“Goiter,” American Thyroid Association; https://www.thyroid.org/goiter/, last accessed June 7, 2017.
“Home Remedies for Goiter,” Top 10 Home Remedies; http://www.top10homeremedies.com/home-remedies/home-remedies-goiter.html, last accessed June 7, 2017.