Skip to main content


A goitre is a lump or swelling at the front of the neck caused by a swollen thyroid. The thyroid is a small gland in your neck that makes hormones. Goitres are not usually serious but should be checked by a GP.

Check if you have a goitre

The main symptom of a goitre is a swelling at the front of the neck, which is usually painless.

A large swelling across the lower front of a woman's neck.
A goitre usually appears at the lower front of the neck.
An egg-shaped lump on the lower front of a woman's neck.
Goitres may look and feel either smooth or lumpy.
A smooth swelling at the lower front right side of a woman's neck.
The swelling may sometimes just be on 1 side of your neck.

You may also have other symptoms including:

  • a cough that does not go away
  • a hoarse voice or voice changes
  • feeling like something is stuck in your throat
  • a wheezing noise when you breathe
  • finding it hard to swallow or breathe

Non-urgent advice: See a GP if:

  • you think you have a goitre

It's not usually serious, but it's best to get it checked.

Immediate action required: Call 999 or go to A&E if:

  • you're finding it hard to breathe

Treatments for a goitre

Most goitres are small and do not cause any problems. Sometimes they do not need treatment.

You will usually need tests like blood tests and sometimes an ultrasound scan to find out what is causing your goitre.

If it is caused by a health condition like an underactive or overactive thyroid, it can usually be treated with medicines.

If your goitre is making breathing and swallowing difficult, you may have surgery to remove some or all of your thyroid.

Causes of a goitre

A goitre happens when your thyroid gland is swollen.

Some reasons why your thyroid might be swollen include:

Page last reviewed: 27 July 2022
Next review due: 27 July 2025