How to prevent a goiter

The thyroid gland is situated at the base of the neck, just beneath the Adam's apple. Under certain conditions the thyroid gland may be enlarged and the condition is referred to as goiter. Goiters are usually not painful, but they may cause symptoms like a visible swelling towards the base of the neck, a feeling of tightness in the throat, difficulty breathing or swallowing, hoarseness and coughing. The thyroid glands are responsible for the production of hormones that regulate various bodily functions like body temperature, pulse rate, moods, and other vital functions. Keep in mind that most goiters are benign and not cancerous.

There is not very much that you can do to prevent goiter other than to pay attention to your diet. If you are concerned about prevention its necessary that you understand and are aware of the risk factors. A deficiency of iodine in the diet is the single largest cause of goiter worldwide, but this is less common in developed countries as most of us use iodized salt. In the United States, goiter is generally due to an under or over production of the thyroid hormones, or due to the development of nodules in the gland itself. Treatment naturally depends on the underlying cause, and also depends on the size of the goiter and symptoms it displays. Small goiters that are barely noticeable and cause no symptoms don't generally require any treatment.

If you study the risk factors you will understand that there is not much you can do by way of preventive measures, unless the cause is dietary.

  • Iodine deficiency: If you live in an area where the dietary foods lack in iodine and if you don't have access to supplements then you could be at a high risk for goiter.
  • Gender issues: Women being more prone to thyroid disorders are also at a higher risk of developing goiter.
  • Aging: Once you reach your 50s, you are at a higher risk of goiter.
  • Heredity: A family history with autoimmune diseases is another significant risk factor.
  • Pregnancy and menopause: Thyroid problems have been found to develop after pregnancy or menopause, although the reason for this are not fully understood.
  • Medications: Certain medications like anti-retrovirals and immuno-suppressants can increase your risk.
  • Radiation: If you've been exposed to radiation, whether through treatments or through presence in a nuclear facility or because of an accident, you are at a higher risk.

The risk factors for goiter are therefore for the large part unavoidable and there is not much that can be done to prevent the condition. If you follow a healthy balanced diet and minimize exposure to controllable risk factors there should be nothing to worry about. In terms of your diet iodized salt, seaweed and other sea foods, particularly shellfish and shrimp, are rich in iodine. If your food sources are largely coastal then fruits and vegetables are also likely to contain iodine. In some cases however excess iodine is also a problem, so just make sure your diet is well balanced and healthy. Ask your doctor for medical alternatives if any treatments you are on increase the risk.

answered by S D

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