Iodine Deficiency And Thyroid Gland Goiter

By Patricia | June 19, 2009

Relief from goiter that is caused by the lack of iodine can only be achieved once the iodine levels in the system are restored. Since a goiter is not just the usual swelling or inflammation of the thyroid gland but massive cell replication, a goiter may take some time to subside.

Goiters develop due to an inability of the body’s thyroid gland to produce certain hormones that are required for survival; some of these hormones are responsible in regulating metabolism. This is usually because of a lack of iodine, which is a major constituent of the thyroid hormones. The pituitary glands compensate for this by making the thyroid gland cells multiply to compensate for the shortfall and this is when the characteristic goiter develops. In some cases, the thyroid gland itself is removed when it obstructs vital functions like swallowing and breathing. Goiter caused by iodine deficiency is called hypothyroidism. Curiously, the opposite condition of hyperthyroidism can also cause the development of a goiter, as is the case of Grave’s disease. In this situation, drugs are given to start shutting down the thyroid gland. How goiter is treated depends largely on the diagnosis of which factors are at play.

Iodine deficiency can be taken care of by the intake of salt that is iodized. This is a requirement in most countries of the world with the exception of a few developing nations. It is also prudent to increase the intake of seafood as most of the world’s reserves of iodine come from the sea. Seafood can also include vegetarian foods like seaweed. In some cases it is necessary to reduce some of the cells of the thyroid gland, which cause the enlargement of the gland. This is done through a procedure in which the excess cells of the thyroid gland are destroyed. This is performed by an injection of a radioactive isotope of iodine that is easily absorbed by the thyroid gland. Once this is absorbed, the radioactivity kills off the cells of the thyroid gland. This is a risky procedure because diminished thyroid function is a consequence of the treatment. Exercise is also highly advised in most traditional medicine systems of the developing world where hypothyroidism is rampant. Many of the exercises include stretching of the neck and aerobic exercises. These are probably aimed at reducing the muscular atrophy that can accompany the fear of moving an enlarged thyroid gland. A lot of emphasis also is placed on the emotional well-being of patients suffering from goiter, as one of the side effects of hypothyroidism is erratic moods and a tendency to be upset more often.

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