Informational Posts / Thyroid Cancer

Neck Issues: Goitres, Pain, Swallowing Difficulties, Nodules and Cysts

Originally published on 29th March 2016
Last updated on 1st March 2024

Have you ever noticed that your neck:

  • Feels or looks enlarged?
  • Feels painful?
  • Feels uncomfortable when swallowing?
  • Feels lumpy?
  • Feels hoarse?

These are all signs of something that needs checking out as soon as possible. Most often, it is nothing life threatening, but it can be and it is always better to be safe than sorry.

An enlarged thyroid gland (goitre), nodule/s, cysts or cancer may all be possibilities and should be taken seriously.

Butterfly on Neck

Goitre (Enlargement)


If you have Hashimoto’s, like 90% of those with hypothyroidism, it means your thyroid is being attacked by your own immune system, which can cause the thyroid gland to swell from inflammation. [1]

This autoimmune condition can even cause the destruction of your thyroid gland and function altogether.

Treating Hashimoto’s by lowering thyroid antibodies can decrease the inflammation and size of a goitre, as the disease is calmed down and managed more effectively.

There are many anecdotal stories of thyroid patients going gluten-free and this reducing the size of a goitre.

Read about how to lower thyroid antibodies here. 

Read about how I specifically lowered my thyroid antibodies. 

Iodine Deficiency

This can also cause a goitre, although never supplement unless you know this is the cause and have an iodine deficiency.

Graves’ Disease

Like Hashimoto’s, your thyroid can enlarge due to having Graves’ Disease, another autoimmune disease. With Graves’, your thyroid hormones increase (hyperthyroidism), and your TSH gets progressively lower as you become more hyperthyroid.

Some people can have both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.

Subacute Thyroiditis

Subacute thyroiditis is a rare condition and is thought to be caused by a viral infection, as it often occurs after one, such as the mumps, flu or a cold. The first signs are soreness and tenderness in the area of the thyroid gland, and sometimes pain spreading to other parts of the neck, ears or jaw, with symptoms of hyperthyroidism or, later, hyperthyroidism. It may cause your neck to feel sore.

Nodules and Cysts 

A nodule is a swelling or lump, which can be a solid or liquid-filled cyst or mass. The cause for these is often unknown, but thyroid patients can see these abnormal growths from being left undiagnosed or from non-optimised thyroid levels.

These causes suggest that inadequate treatment and management of thyroid issues can lead to nodules. More than 90% of all thyroid nodules are usually benign. [2]

Nodules can also be cysts. Only a very small percentage of these are cancerous. The best thing is always to get yourself checked out as soon as possible.


Cancer of the thyroid gland is another, albeit small possibility, and is diagnosed by doing a fine needle biopsy. Thyroid Cancer isn’t very common, but it could, however, also be a reason for a goitre, nodule, pain or other abnormalities.


At the end of the day, if your thyroid/neck looks enlarged, you really ought to explore why, and I strongly suggest having a doctor examine it as soon as you notice.

You can click on the hyperlinks in the above post to learn more and see references to information given.

Learn how to check your neck.

Do you know how to check your neck for abnormalities?




About Author

Rachel Hill is the highly ranked and multi-award winning thyroid patient advocate, writer, speaker and author behind The Invisible Hypothyroidism. Her thyroid advocacy work includes writing articles, authoring books, producing her Thyroid Family email newsletters and speaking on podcasts and at events about the many aspects thyroid disease affects and how to overcome these. She is well-recognised as a crucial and influential contributor to the thyroid community and has a large social media presence. Her bestselling books include "Be Your Own Thyroid Advocate" and "You, Me and Hypothyroidism".


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