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What is the treatment for an enlarged thyroid?

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Quick Answer

The treatment for an enlarged thyroid depends on an individual's symptoms, as well as the size of the thyroid and the underlying cause of the enlargement, according to Mayo Clinic. For example, a smaller thyroid growth may not need treatment, while larger ones may need surgery.

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Full Answer

When the size of a person's thyroid growth, called a goiter, is small, and the thyroid seems to function normally, doctors may opt to avoid treatment and simply observe it, explains Mayo Clinic. If a person suffers from hypothyroidism, his doctor prescribes levothyroxine, which works in not only helping to regulate a person's hormones but also slows the abnormal growth of the goiter. Steroidal medications can treat inflammation of the thyroid gland.

For larger goiters that cause discomfort or trouble swallowing, surgery is often the better choice, according to Mayo Clinic. Surgery can also treat nodular growths of the thyroid. In these cases, doctors may remove a part of the gland or the entire gland itself. Depending on the amount of the gland removed, a patient may have to take levothyroxine to normalize hormone levels. Radioactive iodine may treat an overactive thyroid. Taken orally, the medicine destroys cells in the thyroid gland, reducing the size of the goiter.

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