​Goitre



The swelling or enlargement of the thyroid gland (gland that secretes hormones for growth and development and is located at the base of the neck) is known as goitre. It is generally painless but it might cause coughing and difficulty in breathing and swallowing.

The most common cause of goitre is iodine deficiency in the diet. Other major causes include inflammation of the thyroid, development of nodules and Graves’ disease (excessive production of the thyroid hormone). Women are generally more prone to thyroid problems including goitre. Risk factors include age, medical history, pregnancy and menopause, and exposure to radiation.

If you believe you are suffering from goitre, you may report of the following:

  • Swelling in the lower neck, just below the Adam’s apple

  • Hoarseness in voice

  • Difficulty in swallowing and breathing

  • Feeling of tightness in the neck area

  • Neck vein swelling

If you notice unexplainable swelling in your neck area along with the symptoms mentioned above, book an appointment with our doctors at the Internal Medicine Service Line at the Aga Khan University Hospital who strive to provide quality healthcare for your complete satisfaction.

Your time with your doctor maybe limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here are some tips to help get you started.

Initially, your doctor will perform a physical exam of your neck area to feel the swelling. For further investigations, the following tests may be conducted:

  • Hormone test: a blood test to measure the thyroid hormones in your body to check if the thyroid gland is functioning normally.

  • Antibody test: your blood will be tested for the presence of abnormal antibodies produced by the white blood cells due to the presence of goitre.

  • Ultrasound of the thyroid: images will be studied by your doctor to determine the size of the goitre and the presence of nodules on the gland, if any.

  • Thyroid scan: a special camera and radioactive isotope, injected in your vein, will be used to produce images of your thyroid to be studied by the doctor.

  • Fine-needle aspiration biopsy: to collect a sample of the thyroid tissue, using a long thin needle inserted through the skin, for testing.

  • Computerized Tomography (CT) scan/Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): to check the size and spread of the goitre.

Presence of goitre in your throat may not be painful but it can cause discomfort in breathing or eating properly. The doctors can help devise a treatment plan for you, depending on the size and spread of your goitre. If the goitre is small and not bothersome, your doctor may decide that it does not require a treatment. But if the goitre is causing you problems, you may undergo one or more of the following treatments:

  • Medications:  to treat the causes of the goitre, such as under-active thyroid (hypothyroidism) or over-active thyroid (hyperthyroidism), or for inflammation of the thyroid.

  • Radioactive iodine uptake test: you will be asked to orally ingest radioactive iodine. The iodine will collects in your thyroid gland and kill the thyroid cells, reducing the size of the gland. However, this treatment leads to an under-active thyroid and you will have to take hormone replacement therapy for the rest of your lifetime.

  • Surgery: to remove all or part of the thyroid gland (total or partial thyroidectomy), if the goitre is large and causing you problems. Surgery may also be carried out to remove nodules. You will have to take hormone replacement therapy for the rest of your life depending on the amount of thyroid gland removed.

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments’ costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.



The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.