The thyroid gland is one of the most important endocrine gland located at the lower front of the neck. A heavy duty that thyroid performs is the production of thyroid hormones which are released into the bloodstream and then carried to every tissue in the body. Thyroid hormone is crucial to the body’s functioning and keeping the brain, heart, muscles, and other organs working normally.
Thyroiditis is term referring to “inflammation of the thyroid gland”. Thyroiditis includes different disorders causing thyroidal inflammation but presenting in multiple ways. For example, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis causes hypothyroidism, Postpartum Thyroiditis causes increased thyroid hormone levels in the blood followed by provisional hypothyroidism, Subacute Thyroiditis causes pain in the thyroid. Thyroiditis can also be triggered by taking illegal drugs.
Causes of Thyroiditis
Thyroiditis is caused by destruction of the thyroid cells leading to inflammation of the thyroid gland
. Antibodies which attack the thyroid are prime culprits behind thyroiditis. Thyroiditis is an autoimmune disease like rheumatoid arthritis
and juvenile diabetes where the body attacks its own immune system. Scientists are clueless about why some people make thyroid antibodies, though it is genetic thing. Thyroiditis may also be the result of a virus or bacteria which attacks the immune system causing inflammation of the gland. Certain drugs such as amiodarone and interferon are also responsible for damaging thyroid cells.
Clinical symptoms of Thyroiditis
There are no precise symptoms of Thyroiditis
. If the thyroiditis causes slow cell damage leading to a decline in thyroid hormone levels in the blood, that condition is called hypothyroidism. Symptoms of hypothyroidism include tiredness, weight gain, constipation, dry skin, depression etc. Similar sort of symptoms are seen with people suffering from Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
. On the other hand, if the thyroiditis causes rapid thyroid cell damage prompting thyroid hormone levels in the blood to increase, that condition is called hyperthyroidism
. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism
include insomnia, increased heart rate, anxiety, fatigue, weight loss
, irritability etc. Similar symptoms are seen in people suffering from subacute, painless and postpartum thyroiditis. When the thyroid gland is not fully active, it leads to thyrotoxicosis.
Treatment for Thyroiditis
Treatment of thyroiditis depends on the type and clinical presentation:
- Thyrotoxicosis: Endocrinologists use beta blockers to reduce palpitations and shakes. As patients show signs of improvement, the medication is stopped since the thyrotoxic phase is not permanent. None of the available Anti-thyroid medications are used because the thyroid is not overactive.
- Hypothyroidism: Treatment is started with hormone replacement because of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. This therapy is also beneficial for patients of subacute, painless and postpartum thyroiditis. If hypothyroidism is less active in these types of thyroiditis and if the symptoms are mild, then no therapy may be required. If the therapy is started for subacute, painless and post-partum thyroiditis patients, it must continue for 6-12 months.
- Thyroidal pain: Anti-inflammatory pills like aspirin or ibuprofen are prescribed to patients associated with subacute thyroiditis because of the pain. Sometimes it can be severe and require steroid therapy.