The thyroid is the gland situated at the base of the neck. Responsible for regulating metabolism, the thyroid serves an important purpose in the body; however, several issues can arise in relation to this gland. One such condition is a goiter or an enlargement of the thyroid gland. While goiters are generally painless, an extremely large goiter may cause a cough as well as difficulty swallowing and breathing.
All goiters do not cause signs or symptoms. Some common signs and symptoms have been identified as indicative of goiters, though. A visible growth or enlargement at the base of the neck is one of the trademark signs of a goiter. Additional symptoms include a tightness in the throat, coughing or hoarseness, trouble swallowing and difficulty breathing.
The thyroid gland is responsible for producing two hormones – thyroxine and triiodothyronine – and works in conjunction with the pituitary gland and hypothalamus to regulate the rate at which these hormones are produced and released. While a disruption in these processes may result in a goiter, having a goiter does not necessarily mean that an individual’s thyroid is not functioning normally. One of the main factors contributing to a goiter or thyroid problem is an iodine deficiency. Other issues may cause a goiter including such diseases as Graves’ disease, Hashimoto’s disease, cancer of the thyroid gland. Additionally pregnancy can cause changes in the thyroid.