Goiters are less prevalent in the United States due to increased iodine in the diet of the general population, such as through the use of iodized salt, but can still be seen quite often in other areas of the world where iodine is not a sufficient component of the diet. Goiters are most commonly developed through a deficiency of iodine in the body. When the thyroid gland does not have enough iodine to produce the thyroid hormone, the thyroid becomes enlarged.
Graves' disease can be another common problem resulting in goiters. Instead of producing hypothyroidism in the body, as what is seen with goiters caused by an iodine deficiency, Graves' disease produces hyperthyroidism in the body. Graves' disease causes the thyroid to produce too much of the thyroid hormone, which still results in an enlarged thyroid gland, or a goiter.
Treatment for goiters varies depending on the cause of the goiter. Iodine supplements can help with patients who have goiters due to an iodine deficiency. However, while this helps to reduce the goiter size, it does not necessarily eliminate it. Graves' disease can be treated with radioactive iodine. It can lead to not only a decrease in goiter size but can also eliminate the goiter completely.
Goiters can result even if the body shows no symptoms of thyroid hormonal issues. In these cases, the goiters can be left alone. In the event that the goiter causes other issues, such as breathing problems, it can be surgically removed.