Are over-the-counter medications available for goiter?

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Dr. Jack Merendino, MD
Endocrinology Diabetes & Metabolism
Not really. Strictly speaking, the term “goiter” simply means thyroid enlargement, so effective treatment will depend on the cause of the goiter. Some forms of goiter, especially a condition called “subacute thyroiditis” or “DeQuervain’s thyroiditis” is often accompanied by intense pain that may be treated with an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen (Motrin and other brands) or naproxen (Alleve and other brands), but usually there isn’t much change in the size of the goiter with such treatment. If a goiter results from iodine deficiency, treatment with iodine supplements may cause the goiter to shrink somewhat. In the United States, iodine itself is not an over-the-counter medication but certain supplements, such as kelp tablets, have a large amount of iodine. However, goiter only rarely results from iodine deficiency in the United States and taking iodine supplements is much more likely to cause a problem than to correct one, so I urge people never to take over-the-counter iodine unless instructed to do so by an endocrinologist or primary physician who is knowledgeable and experienced in this area.

Depending on what is causing your goiter and its severity, you may be able to treat it with over-the-counter medications. Some anti-inflammatory medications, such as aspirin, can reduce the size of your thyroid. If your goiter is associated with irregular thyroid hormone production, however, you will likely need prescription medication to regulate your thyroid hormones. Discuss all treatment options with your doctor to determine what you need.

 

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