Have you noticed a large bump on your neck lately? Is it causing you discomfort and seems to be worsening? You may have a goiter, a type of thyroid disease. Though treatable, not all forms of goiter treatment are suitable during pregnancy.
What is Goiter?
A goiter is an enlargement of the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is located in your neck and produces hormones that regulate metabolism in the human body. A goiter can cause difficulty in swallowing and breathing. There are two types of goiter: diffuse and nodular. A diffuse goiter refers to consistent enlargement of the thyroid gland while a nodular goiter is enlargement of the thyroid from one or two nodules. Although rare in the U.S., pregnant women living in iodine-deficient areas of the world are more vulnerable to developing goiters during pregnancy. A baby is dependent on the mother for thyroid hormone for the first 10 to 12 weeks of pregnancy.
Signs and Symptoms of Goiter
If you have a goiter, some of the typical goiter symptoms you may notice include:
- tightness in the throat
- thyroid gland enlargement
- trouble swallowing
- trouble breathing
Causes of Goiter
The thyroid gland produces a number of hormones that regulate metabolism, body temperature, heart rate and protein production. A goiter may not necessarily affect the levels of hormones or the production of hormones. But if the hormone production is abnormal it could be due to a number of reasons including:
Your doctor can use physical examination, blood tests, antibody tests, ultrasound and a thyroid scan to determine what is causing the goiter.