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Enlarged Thyroid Causes

Enlarged Thyroid Causes

An enlarged thyroid or goiter is the inflammation of the thyroid gland. The front of the throat swells up immensely in such a case and can be extremely unsettling. Read the HealthHearty post to find out what are some commonly observed causes of this condition.
HealthHearty Staff
The thyroid gland is a small and minuscule gland that is located in front of your neck. The primary task of the gland is to produce hormones which help in the regulation of the rate at which the body cells function. A thyroid disease, therefore, significantly affects the overall health of an individual. Over production or under production of thyroid hormones are the causes for a variety of symptoms and illnesses. There are other diseases that display different symptoms; the most common among them being an enlarged thyroid.
Hyperthyroidism and Hypothyroidism
These are the two faces of thyroid diseases. Hyperthyroidism occurs when the gland is producing too many hormones. Men and women, regardless of age, can be affected by this syndrome, but mostly women between 20 and 40 years of age are afflicted by this condition. Hypothyroidism, on the other hand, implies a lack of the hormone being produced by the gland. If a person is found to be suffering from either of these conditions, they must immediately visit a doctor.
Causes
Graves' Disease
Graves' disease is a condition that occurs due to hyperthyroidism; which is excessive thyroid hormones being produced in the body. The immune system stimulates the gland to produce two different kinds of hormones. Graves' disease is also known as diffuse toxic goiter, and it primarily affects middle-aged women, though men are also prone to it. This is one of the most widely seen causes. Here are some symptoms:
  • Anxiety and irritability
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Bulging, swollen, and itchy eyes
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Excessive sweating and sensitivity to heat 
  • Weakness of muscles
Hashimoto's Disease
Similar to Graves' disease, Hashimoto's disease is also caused by the immune system attacking the gland. In this case though, the immune system diminishes the amount of hormones that are being generated, and this results in hypothyroidism. Hashimoto's disease is also widely known as Hashimoto's thyroiditis or chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis. This is a hereditary disease and is known to run in some families. The symptoms of Hashimoto's disease are:
  • Fatigue
  • Constipation
  • Sudden weight gain
  • Sensitivity to cold
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Rapid graying of hair
  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Difficulty concentrating
Postpartum Thyroiditis
This is a condition that commonly affects women a few months after they've given birth. Women are generally the ones most affected by thyroid gland diseases, and almost all the causes affect women in some way or manner. Postpartum thyroiditis is a condition that is caused by the inflammation of the gland. The symptoms are varied and differ according to the stage of the disease. In the first stage, symptoms of hyperthyroidism are seen, and in the second stage symptoms of hypothyroidism can be observed.

Thyroid Cancer
This is another cause that is found around the world. When small tumors (known as thyroid nodules) begin to grow on the gland, it leads to a case of thyroid cancer. These thyroid nodules are very common occurrences though, and most people get them frequently. About 95% of thyroid nodules that are found, are said to be noncancerous. The ones that are cancerous though, are extremely harmful and can also spread to various other parts of the body and cause some serious bodily damage.

Nutritional Deficiency
An enlarged thyroid gland is also commonly known as goiter. This is a condition that is easily recognizable among many people. The geographic conditions and living habits of a person determine what kind of a diet a person enjoys. With every diet, there are sure to be some nutrients which are not being supplied to the body in sufficient amounts. A deficiency of iron is known to be one of the most widespread causes around the world. It is said that nearly one billion people worldwide suffer from goiter due to a lack of iron in their diet. This is more commonly seen in under developed countries and third world countries.
As you can see, there are several causes that are known to cause goiter. Each of these causes display their own symptoms and have their own dangers if they are left untreated. If any of these signs are noticed, or if the thyroid gland is visibly enlarged, you must visit a doctor immediately. Leaving such a condition untreated could pose major dangers in the future.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.