A goiter is an abnormal swelling or inflammation of the thyroid gland, which is located at the base of the neck.
The most common causes of goiters are a diet containing too little iodine, and the excessive or insufficient production of hormones by the thyroid. Goiters may also be a symptom of an underlying medical condition, such as Graves' disease, thyroid cancer or Hashimoto's disease (an auto-immune disorder).
Goiters may be asymptomatic, but common signs are a swelling at the base of the neck, tightness in the throat, coughing, hoarseness, and problems swallowing or breathing. Goiters caused by an underlying medical condition may also be associated with symptoms such as fatigue, weight gain, weight loss, and sleeping difficulties.
Treatment of goiters depends on the underlying cause but may include thyroid medication, radioactive iodine, or surgery. Thyroid preparations may be prescribed to treat goiters.