What Are the Signs & Symptoms of a Swollen/Enlarged Thyroid Gland?

By Norah Faith

The thyroid gland is located in the lower, front part of the neck right in front of the windpipe. The thyroid produces hormones essential to the smooth functioning of your body. Hyperthyroidism, or increased thyroid activity, and Hypothyroidism, or decreased thyroid activity, can cause several health complications. These ailments are the main causes of goiter, a swollen or enlarged thyroid gland.

Signs of an enlarged thyroid

Possible signs of a swollen or enlarged thyroid gland include difficulty swallowing and breathing. Extremely swollen thyroid glands can sometimes make swallowing and breathing difficult because the swollen thyroid gland can press on the esophagus and windpipe. A visible butterfly-shaped swelling located at the lower, front part of the neck may indicate an enlarged thyroid gland. The swelling may be smooth to the touch or it may feel like a lump or many small lumps.

Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism is an over-production of thyroid hormones. In addtion to swelling, hyperthyroidism may result in extreme body heat, increased perspiration, body weakness and shaky hands. Fatigue, eye ailments and edginess are also symptoms. When hyperthyroidism goes untreated, the heartbeat may increase and osteoporosis can occur. Women may experience irregular menstruation cycles and suffer from infertility. A common cause of these symptoms is Grave’s disease, in which the immune system targets the thyroid gland and renders it useless.

Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism occurs when the gland does not produce the required amount of hormones. Online research published by The Hormone Foundation shows that Hashimoto’s disease is the cause of hypothyroidism in most cases. In this illness, the immune system attacks the thyroid gland until it is unable to produce the required hormones. In addition to a swollen thyroid gland, symptoms of hypothyroidism include extreme lethargy, depression, body chills, dry scalp and hair, irregular periods and constipation.

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