“Goiter is simply a catch-all name for an enlarged thyroid,” Baker says. Both hyper- and hypothyroidism can cause the thyroid to swell. Several nodules clumped together can also cause a goiter, as can thyroiditis, thyroid cancer, and even hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy. Goiters can also form if you have an iodine deficiency, but this isn’t a problem that we really see anymore in the U.S.
A goiter that isn’t large enough to impact swallowing or breathing is nothing to worry about, but knowing what caused it to form is important to get to the bottom of any other thyroid problems you have.
6. Thyroid cancer
According to the National Cancer Institute, there were an estimated 62,450 new cases of thyroid cancer in 2014. The rate has been increasing in recent years, which experts estimate is partly because new technologies have made it easier to detect. The full reason for this increase, though, is not yet known. The good news is that thyroid cancer is usually very treatable, and the survival rates are high.
Thyroid cancer often presents without symptoms and just causes a goiter or nodules that usually will not impact the thyroid’s function or cause any pain in the early stages. As it progresses and cancerous nodules grow, you may experience pain in the neck, difficulty swallowing, or a hoarse voice.