Thyroiditis Symptoms


Thyroiditis generally refers to the inflammation of thyroid gland. It is a condition that is characterized with group of disorders that cause thyroidal inflammation and several disease manifestations. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, a type of thyroiditisis which is the most common cause hypothyroidism. Another type called as post-partum thyroiditis commonly causes thyroid conditions post-pregnancy. It is associated with high levels of thyroid hormone in blood referred as temporary thyrotoxicosis, which is accompanied with temporary hypothyroidism. Another type called as sub-acute thyroiditis presents with pain in the thyroid gland. Thyroiditis condition is usually triggered by the intake of drugs like interferon and amiodarone. Here is a brief highlight about various types of thyroiditis and associated symptoms as discussed below:

Symptoms of Thyroiditis

Thyroiditis gradually results in long-term damage to the thyroid cells and destroys it, thus dropping down the thyroid hormone levels in blood. The symptoms of hypothyroidism (under active thyroid) include:

  • Constipation
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Abrupt weight gain
  • Muscle aches
  • Dry skin

Thyroiditis also results in leakage of thyroid hormone from the gland by damaging and destroying the thyroid cells, thus increasing the thyroid hormone levels in blood. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) include:

  • Insomnia
  • Weight loss
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Irritability
  • Tremors
  • Nervousness

Types of thyroiditis

Thyroiditis is a manifestation of series of disorders that lead to inflammation of the thyroid. Different types of thyroiditis are as follows:

Acute thyroiditis (suppurative thyroiditis)

  • Caused by infectious organisms or bacterial infection.
  • Patients with acute thyroiditis present with acute illness, including neck pain,painless enlargement of the thyroid,fever (38-40°C), sore throat, chills, hoarseness, hypothyroidism and dysphagia.
  • Unilateral neck pain gradually radiates to the ears, mandible, or occiput. The severity of neck pain aggravates with hyperextension of the neck and subsides with the flexion of neck.
  • Swollen thyroid gland and neck present with a characteristic,unilateral,tenderness.
  • Progression of the disease results in the formation of erythema over the gland,abscess formation and regional lymphadenopathy.

Sub-acute thyroiditis (or de Quervain’s thyroiditis)

  • Subacute thyroiditis is commonly caused by viral infection that gradually causes infection of the upper respiratory tract.
  • It is manifested with inflammatory swelling of the thyroid gland and often thyroidal pain that lasts especially, during thethyrotoxic phase (1-3 months).
  • Thyrotoxicosis is not evident in all cases presenting with thyroidal pain.
  • Pain in the thyroid gland gradually lasts for few weeks or even months and can radiate to the ears or jaws
  • Common symptoms include pain in the neck, hyperthyroidism, followed by hypothyroidism.
  • Symptoms subside after 12 to 18 months and may cause permanent hypothyroidism, which is treatable.

Other symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Dysphagia (swallowing difficulty)
  • Hoarseness
  • Fever
  • Weakness
  • Tenderness of the thyroid gland on releasing gentle pressure

Symptoms associated with hyperthyroidism include:

  • Heat intolerance
  • Diarrhea
  • Palpitations
  • Nervousness
  • Tremor
  • Sweating
  • Weight loss

Symptoms associated with hypothyroidism include:

  • Constipation
  • Fatigue
  • Cold intolerance
  • Function of thyroid gland returns to normal and rarely few cases develop permanent hypothyroidism.
  • Sub-acute thyroiditis rarely presents with recurrence

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis  (or Chronic thyroiditis; Autoimmune thyroiditis; Chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis)

  • Hashimoto’s or chronic thyroiditis presents with an inflammatory swelling of the thyroid gland that reduces the function of thyroid gland (hypothyroidism).
  • Patients permanently develop hypothyroidism

Symptoms of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis include:

  • Concentration difficulty
  • Constipation
  • Dry skin
  • Hair loss
  • Fatigue
  • Neck enlargement due to goiter
  • Cold intolerance
  • Heavy and irregular periods
  • mild weight gain
  • thyroid gland shrinkage on disease progression
  • unintentional weight gain
  • Joint stiffness
  • Facial swelling
  • Some patients may not present with evident symptoms.
  • Its’ caused by the production of antibodies that attack thyroid gland.

Silent thyroiditis

  • It initially presents with hyperthyroidism, followed by hypothyroidism.
  • May cause permanent hypothyroidism which can be treated.
  • Symptoms subside after a period of 12 to 18 months.

Postpartum thyroiditis and Painless thyroiditis

  • Postpartum thyroiditis is caused by the production of antibodies that directly attack the thyroid post-pregnancy.
  • Symptoms last for 4 to 6 months post-delivery, initially cause hyperthyroidism(thyrotoxicosis), followed by hypothyroidism.
  • Symptoms subside after 12 to 18 months resulting in permanent hypothyroidism that can be treated.
  • Patients can either manifest both phases or only hypothyroid or thyrotoxic phase (1-3 months).

Symptoms associated with thyrotoxic phase include:

  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • weight loss
  • palpitations
  • irritability
  • Fatigue

Symptoms associated with hypothyroid phase include:

  • weight gain
  • constipation
  • fatigue
  • depression
  • dry skin
  • poor exercise tolerance
  • Painless thyroiditis affects both men and women and is not associated with pregnancy, unlike post-partum thyroiditis.

Drug-induced thyroiditis

  • Drug induced thyroiditis is caused by various prescription medications like lithium, amiodarone, cytokines and interferons.
  • Presents with symptoms of both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.
  • Symptoms subside soon after discontinuing the drug.
  • Thyrotoxicosis symptoms subside after sometime; however, radiation induced hypothyroidism is permanent.

Radiation-induced thyroiditis

  • Caused by cancer related radiation therapy or after treatment with radioactive iodine.
  • Presents with symptoms of hypothyroidism that is usually permanent.

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