Why there can be a cough with thyroid disease

Sore throat isn’t always the result of a harmless cold, but it can also indicate an inflammation of the thyroid gland.

A swollen and pressure-sensitive thyroid should be examined by a specialist, advises the World Health Organization.

Otherwise, the hormonal background in the body may be disrupted, given that the initial diagnosis may be incorrect due to symptoms of a specific nature.

Diseases That Cause Cough

An enlarged thyroid gland (thyroid gland) is a rather rare cause of dry cough. As described, this occurs much more frequently due to upper respiratory tract infections, exposure to pollutants or allergens. 

However, due to the frequency of thyroid diseases among the population, this symptom is more often observed in the group of patients. Here, an increase in thyroid tissue leads to compression of the trachea, followed by an urge to cough. 

A cough can occur with the following diseases:

  • Nodes sealed and filled with liquid;
  • Adenoma;
  • Oncology;
  • Stress and emotional stress;
  • Benign tumors;
  • Cysts;
  • Hormonal changes in women (pregnancy, lactation, menopause);
  • Hormone replacement therapy;
  • Improper and uncontrolled use of hormones and vitamins;

Pediatricians note that now there are many children who suffer from iodine deficiency . This is influenced by unbalanced nutrition and poor environmental conditions in different regions.

If the duration of sputum discharge in a child is observed for 1-1.5 months, the parents must, without fail, seek advice from the attending physician.

Cough, in some cases, can be recognized as a secondary thyroid disease, which is associated with the process of deformity or neoplasms that have arisen.


The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of the neck just below the Adam’s apple.

Although a goiter is usually painless, a large goiter can cause coughing and make it difficult to swallow or breathe. A goiter is an abnormal enlargement of the thyroid gland that results in persistent coughing and shortness of breath.

The two most common diseases are hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, which combine all the symptoms.

Hyperthyroidism symptoms

In hyperthyroidism, the thyroid gland produces too much hormone. This accelerates the work of the entire system and gives the impression that the body is “accelerating”. 

Common signs of an overactive thyroid gland include: weight loss (despite a normal diet). Too high levels of the hormone speed up the metabolism, which leads to weight loss.

Thyroid hormones affect the gastrointestinal tract. In excessive amounts, they can cause more frequent bowel movements or even diarrhea. Kidney function may also be impaired, leading to increased urination.  

These types of symptoms may indicate other causes: if a person has constant urination and is often thirsty, then diabetes is suspected. 

Thyroid hormones help regulate the sympathetic nervous system.

Over-stimulation triggers the body’s response to defend itself, “which leads to increased heart rate, anxiety, irritability, mood swings and panic attacks, and affects the body’s ability to cope with stress. 

Other common symptoms of hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid gland) include:

  • fatigue;
  • weakness;
  • cardiopalmus;
  • increased sweating;
  • insomnia;
  • dry skin and hair;
  • mood swings;
  • sensitivity to heat;
  • menstrual irregularities in women;
  • swelling of the neck due to an enlarged thyroid gland (goiter).

Symptoms of hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid gland)

In hypothyroidism, the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). As hormone levels decrease, thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) production increases. 

A person is accompanied by fatigue, depression or cold, coughing. This type of thyroid disease is more common in women, especially during the menopausal age, but hypothyroidism can occur at any age.

When thyroid hormones drop, the processes in the body slow down. Metabolism and heart rate, blood circulation slow down, and energy levels drop dramatically, which can cause feelings of exhaustion. 

Other common causes of fatigue are stress, lack of sleep, overwork, certain psychological factors, food intolerances and nutritional deficiencies, including iron deficiency anemia (which can also be caused by insufficient thyroid activity).

When the thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones, it can slow down the metabolism, so the body does not burn as many calories and tends to gain weight.

Weight gain and bloating can also occur due to fluid retention. Low hormone levels affect kidney function, which increases salt and water retention. 

Weight gain with hypothyroidism is almost always accompanied by other symptoms, such as coughing. Thus, weight gain on its own can mean too much or too little regular physical activity.

Thyroid hormones play an important role in maintaining healthy brain function. When they are low, depression can occur. 

For example, hormones help regulate the hypothalamus-pituitary-thyroid axis, which is involved in regulating emotions, mood, and behavior.

Depression can also be caused by other causes, such as lack of sleep, poor diet, lack of natural light, or even stress or events.

If a person feels depressed and this begins to affect their daily life, you should always seek the help of a doctor.

Decreased activity slows down digestion and can provoke coughing. This may mean that food takes longer to travel through the digestive tract, which contributes to constipation.

Other common symptoms of hypothyroidism include:

  • sensitivity to cold;
  • general lethargy;
  • lack of energy;
  • muscle and joint pain;
  • fluid retention;
  • dry skin;
  • hair loss;
  • trouble concentrating;
  • swelling of the face;
  • low heart rate and low blood pressure.

The thyroid gland is one of the organs with the best blood supply, producing two hormones: tetraiodothyronine (T4, thyroxine) and triiodothyronine (T3).

The main effect of thyroid hormones is to increase the rate of basal metabolism and general metabolism. They also have a positive effect on growth and development as well as calcium and phosphate metabolism. 

Thyroid function is subject to a higher level control system and is stimulated by the hormone TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) from the pituitary gland to produce and release hormones.

In turn, high levels of hormones in the blood suppress the production of TSH in the pituitary gland.

The trace element iodine is essential for the production of thyroid hormones. An insufficient intake of iodine from food can lead to an increased release of TSH and, thus, to a compensatory increase in the thyroid gland (goiter). 


Goiter is a common thyroid disorder. More than 90% of diseases are goiter with normal hormone production ( euthyroid goiter). 

Many patients, when they have a cough, without knowing the cause, begin to treat a knowingly false symptom with unnecessary medications, not suspecting that this can provoke a worsening of the thyroid problem.

If the cough persists, an iodine absorption test should be done. This is done before bed. Three strips of iodine are applied to the hand.

  1. The first is short and thin, barely visible.
  2. The second – the length and thickness are average, the color is saturated.
  3. The third – the width of the strip is more than 1 cm, longer than the first two.

The next morning you need to examine the absorption of iodine. With the disappearance of only the first strip, there is no cause for concern. When the three bands disappear, you need to visit an endocrinologist so that he can schedule a full medical examination.

A disease in the thyroid gland is also indicated by an enlarged neck with a small protrusion (goiter). It resembles the Adam’s apple in men. Depending on the size of the goiter, the WHO (World Health Organization) divides it into three degrees.

  • Level 0 describes a goiter that is not visible or palpable, but can be detected by ultrasound.
  • Grade 1 goiter is already felt, but when looking at the neck, it is invisible.
  • Grade 2 goiter is visible and felt on palpation.

An overgrowth of the thyroid gland can lead to displacement of the windpipe, which can cause the urge to cough and, as a result of constriction, also increase the sounds of breathing.

Depending on the age, size and nodular transformation of the goiter, there is a risk of developing the so-called autonomy of the thyroid gland.

An enlarged thyroid gland produces thyroid hormones regardless of TSH levels, which can lead to latent hyperthyroidism.

Increased intake of iodine, for example, with the help of iodine-containing drugs or X-ray contrast agents, can cause a thyrotoxic crisis.

Disease therapy

Since the dry cough described here is caused by goiter, treating it can often relieve this symptom. The treatment of choice in the treatment of goiter is iodine replacement therapy, which eliminates iodine deficiency.

This treatment can reduce the volume of the thyroid gland by about 10% and reduce coughing. This medication should not be prescribed if the person is allergic to iodide.

Combination therapy with iodide and thyroxine (T4) reduces the production of TSH in the pituitary gland, which is the basis for the enlargement of the thyroid gland. As a result, a volume reduction of about 20% can be achieved. 

This therapy is not recommended for elderly patients as overt hyperthyroidism, possibly induced by therapy, can contribute to cardiovascular events and the development of osteoporosis.

Regular monitoring of thyroid levels is required while taking this medication.

A large nodular goiter that affects the surrounding organs and causes a cough must be surgically treated. Depending on the origin, parts or the entire organ are resected.

Depending on the residual volume of the thyroid gland, iodide and possibly thyroxine must be replaced for life.

In case of inoperability or recurrent goiter (recurrent goiter), radioiodine therapy is possible . Radioactively labeled iodine (131 iodine) is supplied, which, as a so-called β-emitter, destroys the thyroid tissue storing iodine. 

This allows a volume reduction of about 40% to be achieved and thus a reduction in coughing.


When the body starts an autoimmune process, therapy is aimed at hormonal drugs that are introduced directly into the gland itself. 

Correct and appropriate prescribing of dosages will give positive results and a decrease or disappearance of cough.

Basically , such preparations are started on the basis of vitamin-mineral complexes, the drug Metimazole and Yodomarin-200. Regardless of what caused the cough, the doctor also prescribes drugs based on codeine.

The course of treatment should take place in accordance with the diet and daily regimen. It is necessary to limit experiences, sleep should last at least 8 hours, unlimited time in the fresh air.

Exercise in general will help you feel better and improve muscle tone and cardiovascular health. Many relaxation techniques can help you maintain a positive attitude, especially when dealing with illness.

Traditional methods

According to some scientific studies, selenium plays an important role in the natural regulation of the thyroid gland.

  1. It is recommended to eat foods containing selenium, it is easily found in some types of fish and meat and oats. Other examples of selenium-rich foods are walnuts, garlic, pumpkin seeds, and beans.
  2. A popular remedy is honey with milk and butter (cocoa butter can be used). A glass of milk is consumed at bedtime for 7 days.
  3. An onion compress is also prepared. To do this, take pork fat and grated onions. Everything is mixed and laid out on cheesecloth, thus forming a compress.
  4. Eating flax seeds helps in the secretion of thyroid hormones as well as its proper functioning. These effects are due to the high content of alpha- linoleic acid.
  5. Among the consequences of thyroid problems is bone thinning. For this reason, it is assumed that people with these conditions consume more calcium. This nutrient is found not only in dairy products, but also in calcium-rich green leafy vegetables.

On the other hand, adequate absorption of this mineral requires additional intake of vitamin D. Deficiency of this vitamin is also one of the symptoms of diseases affecting the thyroid gland and, as a result, causing cough.

Certain medicinal herbs can relieve thyroid problems and control hormone production. Thus, the ingredients of these plants help prevent future complications.

Valerian and ginseng are some of the best known natural remedies that also help with thyroid problems. In the form of an infusion, it relaxes the entire nervous system and helps control sleep problems, reducing coughing.

The best prevention of iodine deficiency thyroid disease is to get enough iodine. Saltwater fish are also a healthy source of iodine. 

Pregnant women especially need iodine (about 200 mcg / day ), since the child’s thyroid gland begins to produce thyroid hormones as early as the 12th week of pregnancy.

A dry cough lasting more than three weeks should always be treated by a doctor. As well as side effects such as shortness of breath, blood in the sputum and chest pain. 

If a dry cough is accompanied by throat swelling, nervousness, insomnia, heart palpitations (tachycardia), weight loss, and increased sweating, the thyroid gland should be examined.

event_note March 27, 2021

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