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Nontoxic Nodular Goiter

A goiter grows on the front of the neck as an enlargement of the thyroid gland. It produces hormones that help regulate your body’s metabolism. Goiters seldom cause pain, as they tend to grow slowly.

Nontoxic or sporadic goiter is a type of simple goiter that may be:

  • Diffuse — an enlargement of the whole thyroid gland
  • Nodular — an enlargement caused by nodules, or lumps on the thyroid


Some possible causes or risk factors include:

  • Family history of goiters
  • Regular use of certain medications
  • Eating foods that inhibit production of thyroid hormone, including cabbage, turnips, brussel sprouts, seaweed and millet
  • Iodine deficiency 

Your chances of developing nontoxic goiter increase if you're female, over 40 and have a diet low in iodine. 

Goiter Symptoms

Nontoxic goiters usually do not have noticeable symptoms, unless they become very large. Symptoms may include: 

  • Swelling on the neck
  • Breathing difficulties, coughing or wheezing with large goiter
  • Difficulty swallowing with large goiter
  • Feeling of pressure on the neck
  • Hoarseness
Less serious health conditions can also cause these symptoms. 


Tests may include the following:

  • Exam of the neck 
  • Ultrasound 
  • Blood tests 
  • Thyroid scan 
  • Fine needle aspiration biopsy 
  • Barium swallow 
  • X-ray of neck and chest for large goiters


You may need treatment for goiters that grow rapidly and affect your neck or obstruct your breathing. If a nontoxic goiter progresses to the nodular stage and the nodule becomes cancerous, you'll need treatment. 

Hormone Suppression Therapy

Thyroid hormone medication suppresses the secretion of thyrotropin (TSH). TSH is the thyroid-stimulating hormone that causes growth. This therapy works for early-stage goiters that have grown due to impaired hormone production.

Radioactive Iodine

Radioactive iodine treatment reduces the size of large goiters. It is used in the elderly when surgical treatment is not an option.


Thyroidectomy removes a portion or all of the thyroid gland. This treatment particularly works if the goiter is so large it causes difficulty in breathing or swallowing.


Call us at 434.243.3675.


Content was created using EBSCO’s Health Library. Edits to original content made by Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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