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Thyroid Diseases

Thyroid and Breathing Problems, Possible Goiter

02/05/2007

Question:

My thyroid has been a mess for approximately 15 years. I now have swelling on the right side of my neck above my collar bone extending to the back of my neck and my spinal column. My thyroid tests on my last visit suggests too much thyroid hormone was prescribed. They lowered my dosage to 1.75 a day. I have difficulty at times with breathing and feel like I am breathing from the right side of my throat and have a rasp in my voice at times. Otherwise, I am healthy. What do you think? Thanks for your article on goiters. :)

Answer:

From your description it sounds like it would be reasonable for you to look into having your thyroid removed surgically - though there is no guarantee that this would end the problems you are having. A permanent raspy voice would be more likely to be caused by a large thyroid, rather than a voice that is raspy at times. A thyroid surgeon or an ear, nose, and throat surgeon could look at your vocal cords and tell you if the thyroid was causing the problem.

Also, it is hard to be sure whether or not your shortness of breath is caused by the thyroid. There are breathing tests (a "flow-volume loop") and x-rays (a CT scan) that could help to tell if your shortness of breath was being caused by your thyroid. You should at least have someone monitoring the size of your goiter periodically to see if it is slowly growing (a large goiter that is slowly getting larger would make you a good candidate for thyroid surgery).

There really isn't any other standard treatment for the goiter besides either surgery or just watching and waiting, so before you seek treatment you would want to decide if your symptoms are bad enough to make you want surgery.

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Response by:

Thomas A Murphy, MD, FACP, FACE Thomas A Murphy, MD, FACP, FACE
Associate Professor of Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University