At its most basic, a goiter is just an enlarged thyroid. Sometimes you can feel it on the side of your neck, and sometimes you cannot. The good news is that in most cases a goiter is benign, but it can cause issues for some people. You may suspect a goiter if you feel a lump or if your neck is a bit tender to touch. Other people notice that they are having issues swallowing. You should always get it checked out if you are suspicious, but in general there are a few symptoms that may point to a goitre.
Visible Swelling in Your Neck
Most people notice that they have a goiter in their neck when they feel an enlarged ball in their neck one day. In most cases a goiter will have been present for quite some time before it is noticed. Putting on sun cream or makeup are two common ways that people notice that they have a goiter on their neck. Usually you cannot see it, but you can feel it if you run your hand over the sides of your neck. The goiter can only be felt from one side of the neck.
As the goiter grows it can start to press on the trachea and the esophagus. This is the reason that many people suffer from symptoms from their goitre. One of the symptoms that can develop if a goiter starts to get too large is stridor. Stridor is a wheezing sound that starts when it is too hard for air to get in and out of the trachea without interference. Constant stridor that is not explained by any other respiratory issue may be a symptom of a goiter.
Throat Feels Tight Constantly
If you always feel like your throat is tight, but there is no underlying issue such as a sore throat, allergies, or a cold then it is possible you have a goiter. An enlarged goiter can crowd your throat making it feel tight when you swallow or sometimes just when you are sitting around. While this is not directly endangering you, it can be uncomfortable and after a while can get very annoying. It is something you should certainly see a doctor about if you are questioning the tightening in your throat.
Because an enlarged thyroid will press on your throat, you may notice that your voice starts to sound rough. The extra crowding in your throat can push on your vocal cords, and the result will be a strained voice. Of course, there are many other reasons for a hoarse voice, but if these are all ruled out, then it may be time to ask your doctor to look for an enlarged goiter if it is not easily seen.
A chronic Cough
Sometimes people with goiter suffer from a chronic cough that cannot be relieved with any type of cough medicine. This is because the narrowing passageway of the throat causes a cough. When the throat narrows, there is less room for mucus and other irritants to build up, leading to a constant need to cough to clear the throat. Coughing that lasts more than a week or two without any underlying reason should always be examined as it can indicate a goiter and several other health conditions.
The esophagus is not the only thing that can narrow when you have an enlarged goitre. Your trachea can also feel the pressure from the goitre which can lead to pressure and it becoming narrowed as well. If your trachea narrows you will likely find that it is harder to breathe than it used to be. You may find yourself out of breath more often or may simply feel as if you are never able to get a deep breath. This is not something that you should ignore as it can lead to much worse health conditions.
When you lump your throat, it is hard to swallow, because it feels like something is in the way. This is precisely what happens when you have a goiter that has grown. The enlarged thyroid will press into your esophagus making it harder to swallow. On occasion, you may feel as if your food is stuck in your throat or have an increase in acid reflux as a result of the goiter.
Many times, a goiter is caused by an iodine deficiency, so if you have a goiter, one thing you may notice is that you suddenly are craving salty foods. The body tends to crave foods that it is missing, so if you find yourself reaching for the potato chips and the salt shaker a bit more than you used too combined with other symptoms, there is a chance that you may have a goiter forming.
Overactive Thyroid Symptoms
Sometimes a goiter is caused by an overactive thyroid. You may notice the symptoms of the overactive thyroid before you notice the symptoms of the goiter. There are a lot of symptoms associated with an overactive thyroid. The most common ones are weight loss, hair loss, hyperactivity, nervousness, fatigue, sweating, and increased appetite. All of these are signs that you need to treat the underlying disease to resolve the goiter.
Underactive Thyroid Symptoms
On the other hand, a goiter can also be caused by an underactive thyroid, known as hypothyroidism. In this case, you may notice signs associated with hypothyroidism before noticing the goiter. Some of the most common symptoms include constipation, forgetfulness, hair loss, weight gain, cold intolerance, and personality changes. In this case, the goiter will not resolve until you first treat the hypothyroidism, but medication alone can be enough to do the trick.