If you have a thyroid disorder, you may feel as if you have a lump in your throat when you swallow. In some cases, the thyroid gland is situated at the base of your neck, and when it becomes enlarged, it can press into your windpipe. 

Thyroid enlargement is referred to as a goiter. Fortunately, thyroid disorders are easy to diagnose. Treatment is available to restore your thyroid hormone levels and help you feel better.

Our top-quality team of head and neck surgeons at Southern ENT Associates routinely diagnoses problems with swallowing. True swallowing disorders have many causes, including Parkinson’s disease and esophageal cancer. However, issues with the thyroid commonly cause trouble swallowing. 

If you have any issues swallowing, see an ENT doctor for an examination.

What is the thyroid?

Your thyroid is a small gland that produces several very important hormones that perform many functions, including controlling your heart rate and the rate at which you burn calories for energy. 

Most of our patients don’t think about their thyroid unless it starts malfunctioning. The thyroid does its job without much fuss in most circumstances. 

There are several situations where the thyroid may enlarge and cause issues swallowing, including the following:

  • Hypothyroidism (producing too little thyroid hormone)
  • Grave’s disease (autoimmune attack on the thyroid)
  • Hyperthyroidism (producing too much thyroid hormone)
  • Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (autoimmune attack on the thyroid)

We may use a physical exam, upper endoscopy, and blood tests to evaluate your swallowing problem.

Symptoms of swallowing problems

Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia) means that it takes extra effort to swallow. Instead of foods and liquids passing through the esophagus effortlessly, you may notice that you have to help the food along with some added effort as you swallow.  It may feel like something is in your throat. 

Thyroid surgery

Many thyroid issues resolve with replacement thyroid hormone. In some cases, we may need to remove all or part of your thyroid. If this is the case, you can feel confident in the hands of our experienced head and neck surgeons.

In conventional thyroid surgery, we make an incision at the base of your neck to access and remove the affected part of the thyroid or the entire thyroid. How much of your thyroid we remove depends on your diagnosis. 

If we remove part of your thyroid, the other part may still work normally and compensate for the missing part. When we remove the entire thyroid gland, we prescribe thyroid hormone replacement to restore your thyroid levels. 

Help for trouble swallowing

Never ignore difficulty swallowing. Seek medical evaluation for a prompt diagnosis and treatment so that you lower your risk of complications. 

To get started, call the Southern ENT Associates office nearest you to schedule an appointment with one of our physicians. Our offices are located in Thibodaux, Houma, Raceland, Morgan City, New Iberia, and Youngsville, Louisiana.

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