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Goiter: Care Instructions

A normal thyroid gland and a goiter

Your Care Instructions

A goiter is an enlarged thyroid gland. It can cause swelling in your neck.

Your thyroid is found in the front of your neck. It makes a hormone that controls how your body uses energy.

Goiters are caused by different things. Some are caused by high or low levels of thyroid hormone. Others are caused by too little iodine in the diet, or a growth or disease in the thyroid. In Canada, most goiters are caused by long-term autoimmune thyroiditis. This is also called Hashimoto's thyroiditis. It happens when the body's immune system damages the thyroid.

You may take thyroid hormone to reduce the size of your goiter. Or you may need surgery or radioactive iodine treatment. Some people don't need any treatment. They only need to watch for changes in the goiter.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Be safe with medicines. Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse advice line if you think you are having a problem with your medicine. You will get more details on the specific medicines your doctor prescribes.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You have trouble breathing.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • Your eyes turn red and bulge.
  • You have trouble swallowing.
  • You feel very tired or weak.
  • You lose weight but are eating the same or more than usual.

Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.