Swollen Thyroid Gland – Diseases, Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

One of the most common causes of neck swelling is disease of the thyroid gland. So, what is thyroid gland? What happen when it’s malfunctioning?

Well, thyroid gland is a large ductless gland that lies at the lower front of the neck, secreting thyroid hormones; thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3); directly into the bloodstream. These hormones affect almost all the cells in the body. They control much of the metabolism and stimulate the growth of child.

The secretion of thyroid hormones is regulated by the pituitary gland (small ductless gland at the base of the brain) and the hypothalamus (part of the brain controlling body temperature, thirst, hunger, heartbeat, etc.). Any impairment or disease afflicting these areas or the thyroid gland might cause a swollen thyroid gland and lead to thyroid disorder, a condition where the thyroid gland fails to secrete proper amount of thyroid hormones.

Thyroid disorders which cause neck swelling include:

Hypothyroidism


  • Hypothyroidism is under-activity of the thyroid gland which might result in cretinism; deformed and mentally retarded person. Too little thyroid hormone slows down metabolism and causes mental and physical changes. Your weight might increase at an incredible rate; your body temperature goes down; your heartbeat, food movement and muscle contraction slows down.
  • There’re many causes of hypothyroidism which include malfunction of the pituitary gland, congenital defects, total or partial removal of thyroid gland (thyroidectomy), exposed to radiation, iodine deficiency, autoimmune disorder such as hashimoto’s thyroiditis, infections, neck injury, low DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) levels, stress, medication side effects, etc.
  • Several symptoms of hypothyroidism include body weakness; cold sensitivity; constipation; weight gain; depression; joint or muscle pain; slowed speech; dry skin; swollen lump on face and hands; hoarseness; abnormal menstrual periods; generalized swelling; hair loss; drowsiness; decreased appetite; ankles, feet and legs swelling; headache; decreased sexual desire; memory loss; difficulty to concentrate; infertility; severe menopausal symptoms; premature graying of hair; swollen eyelids; slowed heart rate; loss of hearing; goiter (morbid swollen of the thyroid gland).
  • Hypothyroidism is treated by replacing the deficient thyroid hormone with thyroid hormone replacement therapy. The hormone dosage is adjusted carefully until the proper amount is obtained. Once treated, most patients can live a normal life. However, the patient might need hormone therapy for the rest of his or her life.

Hyperthyroidism


  • Hyperthyroidism is over-activity of the thyroid gland resulting in too much secretion of thyroid hormone thus increasing the rate of metabolism.
  • Hyperthyroidism can be caused by autoimmune disorder such as Graves’ disease, goiter, too much of iodine, thyroid inflammation.
  • Common symptoms of hyperthyroidism include unintended weight loss, heart palpitations, sweating, diarrhea, hair loss, abnormal menstrual periods, heat sensitivity, muscle weakness, insomnia, depression, swelling of the eyes, swelling of the thyroid gland (goiter).
  • Hyperthyroidism can be treated with anti-thyroid drugs, radioactive iodine (RAI) treatment or removal of the thyroid gland.

Thyroid cancer


  • Thyroid cancer is a malignant tumor of the thyroid gland.
  • Symptoms of thyroid cancer include swelling in the neck (goiter), neck pain, hoarseness, swallowing and breathing problem, swollen lymph gland in the neck.