Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Women's Health

Font Size

Understanding Goiter -- The Basics

What Are Goiters?

Goiters can be any one of several types of growths in the thyroid gland, located at the base of the front side of the neck just below the Adam's apple.

In the case of Graves' disease, the entire thyroid gland becomes enlarged.

Understanding Goiter

Find out more about goiter:




Another type, called toxic nodular goiter, results when one or more nodules, or adenomas, develop in the thyroid and trigger excess production of thyroid hormone.

In short, a goiter is any enlargement of the thyroid gland. A goiter may be a temporary problem that will remedy itself over time without medical intervention, or a symptom of another, possibly severe, thyroid condition that requires medical attention.

get the basics on goiter.

What Causes a Goiter?

Goiters can occur when the thyroid gland produces either too much thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism) or not enough (hypothyroidism). Much more rarely, the problem may arise when the pituitary gland stimulates thyroid growth to boost production of the hormone. Enlargement could also occur with normal production of thyroid hormone, such as a nontoxic multinodular gland.

Another type of thyroid growth, called a sporadic goiter, can form if your diet includes too many goiter-promoting foods, such as soybeans, rutabagas, cabbage, peaches, peanuts, and spinach. Keep in mind you would have to eat huge amounts of these foods to cause a goiter. These foods can suppress the manufacture of thyroid hormone by interfering with your thyroid's ability to process iodide. Historically, the most common cause used to be a lack of iodide in the diet, however in the 1920s iodized salt was introduced in the U.S. now making this a rare cause of goiters. Iodine is added to other foods as well.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD on March 09, 2015

Today on WebMD

hands on abdomen
Test your knowledge.
womans hand on abdomen
Are you ready for baby?
birth control pills
Learn about your options.
Is it menopause or something else?
woman in bathtub
bp app on smartwatch and phone
estrogen gene

Send yourself a link to download the app.

Loading ...

Please wait...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.


Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Blood pressure check
hot water bottle on stomach
Attractive young woman standing in front of mirror