Enlarged Thyroid & Stress

An enlarged thyroid can be exacerbated by stress, because stress can inflame the underlying conditions that cause an enlarged thyroid. Stress management, coupled with treatment of the root cause of your enlarged thyroid, will help you keep your swollen thyroid in check.

  1. Enlarged Thyroid Causes

    • An enlarged thyroid, also called a goiter, can be caused by several different thyroid conditions. The thyroid can become enlarged if you have an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism), thyroid nodules or thyroid cancer. In some cases, enlarged thyroids may be painful to the touch and may cause throat pain, neck pain, or difficulty swallowing or breathing.

    The Stress Link

    • The link between enlarged thyroid and stress is unclear and indirect. There is no evidence that stress alone will cause the thyroid to become swollen or enlarged without any underlying thyroid disease, according to the Thyroid Association of Canada. However, there is anecdotal evidence to suggest that stress can make some thyroid conditions worse, which in turn can cause thyroid swelling.

      With thyroid problems caused by autoimmune disease, doctors believe stress can make autoimmune conditions flare up or become more severe, according to the natural health group Heal with Hope. By extension, stress may worsen a thyroid problem, causing inflammation.

    Underlying Condition Treatment

    • Treating an enlarged thyroid means diagnosing and treating the underlying condition that is causing it. Your doctor will prescribe thyroid hormone replacement medication if you have an underactive thyroid, while thyroid suppressing medication and radioactive iodine therapy is used if your thyroid is overactive or if you have thyroid nodules. Chemotherapy, radiation or removal of the thyroid are all possible thyroid cancer treatments. Treating these conditions may reduce your thyroid swelling.

    Stress and Treatment

    • Just as stress alone will not cause an enlarged thyroid, stress management alone will not solve your enlarged thyroid problem. However, managing stress is part of a healthy lifestyle and may have a positive impact on your thyroid health.

    Stress Management Techniques

    • According to the Mayo Clinic, begin by identifying the causes of your stress. You may find that you can clear some of the stress from your life simply by changing habits. In other cases, you may not have a choice but to tolerate some stress factors. The Mayo Clinic recommends finding a relaxing technique that works for you, such as yoga or meditation, to help you get your stress in check.

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