ZocdocAnswersWhat are goiters?

Question

What are goiters?

I have a bubble on the back of my neck and my brother says its goiters. What are goiters? How did this happen? I'm a 31 year old guy.

Answer

First of all, let me start out by saying that there is no way anyone will be able to tell you exactly what the lesions, or "bubble", on the back of your neck is without being able to take a thorough history and do a detailed physical exam. This is something that should be done by a physician. However with that being said, I am happy to give you some information about goiters. In simple terms a goiter is a significantly enlarged thyroid gland. The thyroid is an endocrine gland that is located in the neck and is shaped like a butterfly (it has 2 lobes and a smaller connecting isthmus). It sits on top of the trachea (wind pipe) below the larynx (voice box). Goiter is almost exclusively seen in patients with dysfunctional thyroid glands. The most common cause of goiter is iodine deficiency. Iodine is used by the thyroid gland to manufacture thyroid hormone, which is a modulator of metabolism and enzyme function (in simple terms, one can think of thyroid hormone as being the "gas pedal" of metabolism). Thus goiter is commonly associated with abnormal thyroid hormone levels and function. This is why most treatment options for goiter involve thyroid hormone supplementation. Goiter is not as common in the industrial world due to iodine in foods (like iodized salt). The thyroid gland is in the front of the neck, so I doubt the bump on the back of your neck is a goiter. I would recommend seeing your primary care physician, or an ENT to get it evaluated. I hope this helps.

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