What is Thyroiditis?
What is Thyroiditis?
Thyroiditis is a condition that happens when your thyroid gland becomes inflamed. The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland in the lower front of the neck. It has important functions in the body thyroid hormones are essential for the function of all cells, for growth and for regulating metabolism.
If you have thyroiditis your thyroid gland leaks large amounts of stored thyroid hormones into your bloodstream. This causes an overactive thyroid gland or hyperthyroidism. The hyperthyroidism lasts only until the hormones stored in your thyroid are used up, which is usually a few weeks. After that you may not have enough thyroid hormone left, resulting in an underactive thyroid gland or hypothyroidism. This can last a few months. However, once the inflammation subsides and your thyroid heals it will start to produce hormones again and your levels will most likely go back to normal.
What is the cause?
- Autoimmune disorder when your immune system starts attacking the healthy cells on your thyroid gland
- Childbirth. Some women develop thyroiditis after delivery, known as postpartum thyroiditis
- Infection. People can develop thyroiditis after viral infection
- Medication such as amiodarone or irradiation such as radioiodine can also cause thyroiditis.
What are the symptoms?
- Some types of thyroiditis trigger a swelling of the thyroid gland with pain in the neck
- At first, many people will develop symptoms of hyperthyroidism such as anxiety, insomnia, palpitations, fatigue, weight loss and irritability. This usually lasts about 6-8 weeks.
- After this people with thyroiditis might start developing symptoms of hypothyroidism which include: Fatigue, weight gain, cold intolerance, constipation and low mood. This phase can last up to 6 months.
Is there a test for thyroiditis?
Yes, your doctor will arrange a blood test to measure thyroid function.
If your blood tests indicate a problem you may need further tests such as:
- Thyroid uptake scan
- Thyroid ultrasound
How is it treated?
The treatment depends on your symptoms. If you do not have any symptoms you may not need any treatment. However, your doctor will keep monitoring your thyroid function to make sure it returns to normal.
If you experience any symptoms your doctor may prescribe medications including:
- Pain killers such as Ibuprofen
By Dr Moghah Elsheikh