By Ana Theresa F. Basilio-Williams
Your thyroid is a but-terfly-shaped gland located at the base of your neck just below your Adam’s apple. Goiter is an abnormal enlarge-ment of your thyroid gland. Al-though goiters are usually painless, a large goiter can cause a cough and make it difficult for you to swallow or breathe.
The most common cause of goiter worldwide is a lack of iodine in the diet. In the United States, where the use of iodized salt is common, a goiter is more often due to the over- or underproduction of thyroid hormones or to nodules that develop in the gland itself.
Treatment depends on the size of the goiter, your symptoms and the under-lying cause. Small goiters that aren’t noticeable and don’t cause problems usually don’t need treat-ment. And with the big size of goiter that Miss BB has, she certainly needs an operation soon because of the presence of dyspnea or difficulty in breathing.
Your thyroid gland pro-duces two main hormones — thyroxine (T-4) and triiodothyronine (T-3).
These hormones circu-late in your bloodstream and help regulate your metabolism. They maintain the rate at which your body uses fats and carbohydrates, help control your body temperature, influence your heart rate, and help regulate the production of proteins. Your thyroid gland also produces calcitonin — a hormone that helps regulate the amount of calcium in your blood.
Your pituitary gland and hypothalamus control the rate at which these hormones are produced and released.
The pro-cess begins when the hypothalamus — an area at the base of your brain that acts as a thermos-tat for your whole system — signals your pituitary gland to make a hormone known as thyroid-stimu-lating hormone (TSH). Your pituitary gland — also located at the base of your brain — releases a certain amount of TSH, depending on how much thyroxine and T-3 are in your blood. Your thyroid gland, in turn, regulates its production of hormones based on the amount of TSH it receives from the pituitary gland.
Having a goiter doesn’t necessarily mean that your thyroid gland isn’t working normally. Even when it’s enlarged, your thyroid may produce normal amounts of hormones. It might also, however, produce too much or too little thyroxine and T-3.
Aside from iodine defi-ciency, you have thyroid gland enlargement when there’s too much thyroid hormone or hyperthyroi-dism leading to Graves’ disease. Another common cause is Hashimoto’s disease or the opposite of Graves’ where there’s underactive thyroid known as hypothyroidism.
Multinodular goiter, solitary thyroid nodules, thyroid cancer, pregnancy and thyroiditis or inflam-matory condition of the thyroid gland all can lead to goiter.
HEALTHWATCHING: Cast all your anxieties unto Me (Jesus Christ) because I cared for you. 1 Peter 5:7