What is Thyromegaly?
This health condition occurs when the thyroid gland becomes enlarged to more than normal size. The enlarged gland is also called a goiter. The thyroid gland is located just below the Adam’s apple, at the base of the neck. It is not normally too visible, but when it grows, it is easily seen.
The thyroid gland is shaped like a butterfly, and produces thyroid hormones that are essential to health and metabolism. The thyroid gland produces two hormone types: thyroxine and triiodothyronine. These are found in your bloodstream to maintain the rate at which your body metabolizes carbohydrates and fats. They also aid in controlling your body temperature, influencing your resting heart rate and regulating protein production. It produces calcitonin as well. This regulates calcium levels in the blood.
This article elaborates on the causes and effects of this disease, and how it can affect your body. Could it be a sign of cancer? Is it something that requires immediate medical attention? We will answer these questions and more.
Thyromegaly occurs when abnormalities in the thyroid gland develop. It appears as a soft mass. If your thyroid hormones are imbalanced or you are iodine-deficient, you may experience goiter. You should not have more or less thyroid hormone than you need. You need the proper amount.
In order to diagnose Thyromegaly, your physician will use a CT scan to see it. He can see the iodine levels at the same time. However, physicians cannot tell by a CT scan whether the growth is benign or cancerous.
In addition to a CT scan, there are lab tests your physician may order, so that your condition can be verified. They include:
- T4 (Free thyrozine)
- Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH)
There are other lab tests, as well. Your physician will determine the proper tests to use to diagnose your condition.
Causes of Thyromegaly
Many people believe that goiters occur when you have an unrelated serious illness, or if you lift too much weight. Scientific facts have not shown that these are true at all.
Some of the actual causes of goiter include:
- It may be hereditary – if someone in your family has it, you may develop it, as well.
- It is believed that women are at a higher risk than men.
- Taking medicines like lithium or cobalt may increase your risk.
- People above the age of 40 years are more prone to develop a goiter, although young people may have it, too.
Established causes of thyromegaly include:
- Deficiency in iodine
Iodine is vital in producing thyroid hormones. People who eat products harvested from the sea will derive a higher concentration of iodine, so that the diet can introduce most of what the body needs.
- Graves’ disease
Graves’ disease is closely associated with over-secretion of thyroid hormones, also known as hyperthyroidism. It is considered an autoimmune disorder.
- Hashimoto’s disease
This is a condition associated with UNDER-secretion of the thyroid hormones, also called hypothyroidism. Unlike Grave’s disease, where the immune system attacks the thyroid gland, Hashimoto’s diseases causes damage to the thyroid gland, which allows it to produce only a minimal amount of the normal thyroid hormones.
- Multinodular goiter
This type of goiter is made of accumulated small nodules that can develop on the left and right sides of the thyroid gland, causing it to be more enlarged.
Other Causes of Thyromegaly
- Thyroid cancer
- Thyroiditis, or inflammation of the thyroid gland
There may be other causes that will further explain why some people develop goiter and some do not. The reasons vary, and only physicians can tell you the facts behind the specific cause.
Working in tandem with the thyroid gland is the pituitary gland, which controls the rate of production of these hormones, to suit the body’s need. When the body needs the hormones, the pituitary gland synthesizes TSH to be released into your bloodstream.
The thyroid gland then works at controlling the release rate of its hormones. If you have thyromegaly, your body is not producing the proper amounts of thyroid hormones to help your body to work most effectively.
Symptoms of Thyromegaly
Not everyone with a goiter will experience every symptom we mention below. Much depends on the size of the goiter. These symptoms below are typical for some patients, but not for all.
- Coughing due to tightness of the esophagus
- Thyroid gland that is swollen and visible on the outside of your neck
- Difficulties in swallowing
- Difficulty speaking
- Difficulty in breathing
- Bad breath
- Fever, if infection is present
- Nodular goiter
- Tightness in the throat area
- A hoarse voice
Hypothyroidism – occurs when the thyroid gland does not make enough thyroid hormone.
Hyperthyroidism – occurs when your thyroid gland over-produces thyroid hormone.
If you do not have the problem treated, you may develop cancer of the thyroid gland. Taking in more iodized salt is not enough to fight thyromegaly. You need to visit your physician, and possibly a specialist, to get a plan of treatment.
Treatment of Thyromegaly
If your goiter is non-cancerous, there may not be a great deal made of medical treatment. However, if you have a goiter that is tested and cancerous (malignant), you must get treatment sooner rather than later.
Common treatments for goiter include:
- Thyroid hormone replacement
If your physician prescribes this method of treatment, the goal is compensation for the lack of the hormone normally secreted by the thyroid gland. This usually takes the form of an oral pill once a day.
- Levothyroxine suppressive therapy
In this type of treatment, the patient receives T4 medication in a large dose, which suppresses the TSH in their blood. This method is used when there is an active tumor or an aggressive tumor previously treated with both surgery and radioactive iodine.
- Ethanol Infusion
Smaller goiters may diminish with time, but not always. They often become more enlarged, and may cause discomfort.
Home Remedies for Thyromegaly
If you want to assist in your own treatment, you can include sufficient iodine in the foods you eat. Be sure that you speak to your physician so that you’re not ingesting amounts of iodine that are too large. You need a level amount.