Thyroiditis is a condition in which the thyroid gland swells (inflammation). Thyroid hormone levels in the blood are either abnormally high or abnormally low.
The thyroid gland is located in the neck and is shaped like a butterfly. It generates hormones that regulate the growth and metabolism of the body.
These hormones regulate heart rhythm and body temperature, as well as convert food into energy to keep the body running.
Thyroiditis can come in a variety of forms.
The immune system attacks the thyroid gland, which destroys it and causes it to swell, resulting in Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
The thyroid is unable to create adequate thyroid hormone as it deteriorates over time. Tiredness, weight gain, and dry skin are all indications of an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism).
A goitre (lump) in your throat may form as a result of your swollen thyroid.
Because the illness progresses slowly, it may take months or even years to identify it.
What causes the immune system to assault the thyroid gland is unknown. Women are considerably more likely than men to have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Symptoms typically appear between the ages of 30 and 50, and the disease can run in families.
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is incurable, however, the symptoms can be managed with the drug levothyroxine. The thyroid hormone levothyroxine is used to compensate for the absence of thyroid hormone. You may need to take levothyroxine for the rest of your life if you have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
Surgery is only required in exceptional cases, such as when your goitre is exceedingly painful or cancer is suspected.
Learn how to treat goitre and an underactive thyroid gland.
De Quervain’s (subacute) thyroiditis
A viral infection, such as mumps or the flu, is thought to cause De Quervain’s (subacute) thyroiditis, painful enlargement of the thyroid gland.
It’s most common in women between the ages of 20 and 50.
It frequently results in a fever and pain in the neck, jaw, or ear. Thyrotoxicosis is a condition in which the thyroid gland releases too much thyroid hormone into the bloodstream, resulting in symptoms of an overactive thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism).
After a few days, the symptoms subside. Symptoms of a thyroid gland that is underactive can continue for weeks or months before the gland recovers entirely.
Beta-blockers can help with the palpitations and shaking that comes with thyrotoxicosis.
Painkillers, such as ibuprofen, can be used to alleviate any discomfort. Steroids (anti-inflammatory drugs) may be used if these medications do not work.
De Quervain’s thyroiditis might reappear at any time, or the low thyroid hormone levels can be permanent. You may need to take levothyroxine (or a comparable prescription) for the rest of your life if this happens.
Silent (painless) thyroiditis
Silent thyroiditis resembles postpartum thyroiditis in appearance, although it can afflict both men and women and is unrelated to childbirth.
There may be a period of high thyroid hormone levels (thyrotoxicosis) that causes symptoms of an overactive thyroid gland, similar to postpartum thyroiditis. This may be followed by signs of a thyroid gland that is underactive, which will go away in 12 to 18 months.
If low thyroid hormone levels are producing severe symptoms, you may need to take medication until your situation improves. Low thyroid levels might be permanent in some cases.
Some medications can harm the thyroid gland, resulting in symptoms of either an overactive or underactive thyroid gland.
Here are several examples:
- Interferons (used to treat cancer)
- Amiodarone (for heart-rhythm problems)
- Lithium (taken for bipolar disorder)
Symptoms are usually transient and may improve once you stop taking the medication.
You should not, however, stop taking any recommended medication without first consulting your doctor.
Thyroiditis caused by drugs can cause pain in the area of the thyroid. Painkillers like ibuprofen can help, although steroids (anti-inflammatory therapy) may be required in some cases.
Radiotherapy or radioactive iodine treatment for an overactive thyroid gland can potentially harm the thyroid gland.
This might result in signs of an overactive thyroid gland or symptoms of a thyroid gland that is underactive.
Because low thyroid hormone levels are usually permanent, you may need to take medication for the rest of your life.
Acute or infectious thyroiditis
A bacterial infection is the most common cause of acute or infectious thyroiditis. It’s uncommon, and it’s linked to a compromised immune system or, in youngsters, a thyroid development problem.
Signs may include throat soreness, general malaise, thyroid gland swelling, and, in certain cases, symptoms of an overactive thyroid gland or symptoms of an underactive thyroid gland.
When an infection is treated with antibiotics, the symptoms normally improve.
Pain relievers such as ibuprofen can help with thyroid pain.
If the symptoms are severe and there is evidence of infection, a thyroid ultrasound scan may be required to rule out other issues.
The aberrant thyroid portion of a child’s thyroid is routinely removed during surgery.