A goiter (GOI-tur) is an abnormal enlargement of your thyroid gland. Your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of your neck just below your Adam's apple. Although 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 goiters 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 underlying cause. Small goiters that aren't noticeable and don't cause problems usually don't need treatment.

Nov. 09, 2016
  1. Goldman L, et al., eds. Thyroid. In: Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2016. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Oct. 4, 2016.
  2. Flint PW, et al. Disorders of the thyroid gland. In: Cummings Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2015. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Oct. 4, 2016.
  3. Medeiros-Neto G, et al. Iodine-deficiency disorders. In: Endocrinology: Adult and Pediatric. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2016. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Oct. 4, 2016.
  4. Goiter. American Thyroid Association. http://www.thyroid.org/what-is-a-goiter/. Accessed Oct. 4, 2016.
  5. Goiter. Hormone Health Network. http://www.hormone.org/questions-and-answers/2013/goiter. Accessed Oct. 4, 2016.
  6. Iodine deficiency. American Thyroid Association. http://www.thyroid.org/iodine-deficiency/. Accessed Oct. 4, 2016.
  7. Simple nontoxic goiter (euthyroid goiter). Merck Manual Professional Version. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/endocrine-and-metabolic-disorders/thyroid-disorders/simple-nontoxic-goiter. Accessed Oct. 4, 2016.
  8. Walsh JP. Managing thyroid disease in general practice. Medical Journal of Australia. 2016;205:179.
  9. Townsend CM Jr, et al. Endocrine. In: Sabiston Textbook of Surgery: The Biological Basis of Modern Surgical Practice. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Oct. 6, 2016.
  10. Nippoldt TB (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Oct. 26, 2016.