WebMD
Font Size

Goiter

A goiter is an enlarged thyroid gland, which is a butterfly-shaped gland in the front of the neck. A goiter often causes a noticeable swelling in the neck.

A goiter can be caused by a lack of iodine in the diet, a tumor or nodule on the gland, a thyroid disease, or, in rare cases, cancer. In many parts of the world, goiters are most common in people who have hypothyroidism, in which the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone, related to a low-iodine diet. In the United States, most people with goiters have chronic autoimmune thyroiditis (Hashimoto's thyroiditis).

An enlarged thyroid may produce normal amounts of thyroid hormone, or it may produce less- or greater-than-normal amounts. Treatment for a goiter depends on what is causing it.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerKathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerMatthew I. Kim, MD - Endocrinology
Last RevisedAugust 7, 2012

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: August 07, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.