Updated: September 29, 2019
Thyroiditis includes a group of individual disorders causing inflammation of the thyroid gland.
Hashimoto's thyroiditis is the most common cause of hypothyroidism. Postpartum thyroiditis is a common cause of thyroid problems after the delivery of a baby which causes temporary thyrotoxicosis (high thyroid hormone levels in the blood) followed by temporary hypothyroidism. Subacute thyroiditis is the major cause of pain in the thyroid. Patients who are taking the drugs interferon and amiodarone can also develop thyroiditis.
There are no unique symptoms of thyroiditis. The symptoms of thyroiditis depends on the type of thyroiditis.
Patients will experience the symptoms of of hypothyroidism as a result of decreased thyroid hormone levels in the blood if the thyroiditis causes slow and chronic thyroid cell damage.
Typical symptoms of hypothyroidism include weight gain, fatigue, constipation, dry skin and hair, muscle cramps, depression, cold intolerance, decreased concentration and sleepiness, leg swelling, puffy eyes . Patients with Hashimoto's thyroiditis generally develop these symptoms.
Slow heart rate, low body temperature, heart failure and coma are some of the severe symptoms of Hashimoto's thyroiditis. Hypothyroidism is usually permanent in this case. Thyroid function tests and thyroid antibody tests are done for the diagnosis.
Symptoms of thyrotoxicosis, which are similar to hyperthyroidism will occur in patients as a result of increasing thyroid hormone levels in the blood because of leakage of the thyroid hormone that is stored in the gland if the thyroiditis causes rapid thyroid cell damage.
Anxiety, insomnia, palpitations, fatigue, weight loss, and irritability are most common symptoms of thyrotoxicosis. Patients with the toxic phase of subacute, painless and post-partum thyroiditis often experience these symptoms.
Postpartum thyroiditis may have two phases. The first phase starts 1 to 4 months after giving birth in which you may get symptoms of hyperthyroidism because the damaged thyroid is leaking thyroid hormones out into the bloodstream. The second phase starts about 4 to 8 months after delivery in which you may get symptoms of hypothyroidism as a result of loss of most of its hormones the thyroid has. During this period thyroid gland often becomes depleted of thyroid hormone as inflammation continues leading to a fall in thyroid hormone levels in the blood. Not necessarily everyone with postpartum thyroiditis goes through both phases. Thyroid function returns to normal within 12 to 18 months after the delivery in most women who have postpartum thyroiditis.
Possibility of permanent hypothyroidism is very less. Thyroid function tests, thyroid antibody tests, radioactive iodine uptake are the most common test done for its diagnosis. Radioactive iodine uptake is not advisable if the women is breast-feeding.
Symptoms of subacute thyroiditis can be the same as postpartum thyroiditis, but it may also include neck, jaw, or ear pain. Pain in the thyroid can be seen in patients with subacute thyroiditis which can be caused by infection. The thyroidal pain in patients with subacute thyroiditis last for 1-3 months and may reduce in time frame of 12-18 months with proper treatment. However, not all patients with thyroidal pain necessarily have thyrotoxicosis. Other symptoms may include systemic illness, painless enlargement of the thyroid and hypothyroidism.
Recurrence of subacute thyroiditis or possibility of permanent hypothyroidism is very rare. For diagnosis of subacute thyroiditis the different test may include thyroid function tests, sedimentation rate, radioactive iodine uptake.
Symptoms of silent or painless thyroiditis are more like postpartum thyroiditis, but it is not related to pregnancy. Most of the thyroidal abnormalities seen in patient resolves after 12-18 months of onset of the symptoms. Possibility of permanent hypothyroidism is very less. Thyroid function tests, thyroid antibody tests, radioactive iodine uptake are the most common test done for its diagnosis.
Drug induced and Radiation thyroiditis will have both thyrotoxicosis and hypothyroidism. The thyrotoxicosis is usually transient. Drug-induced hypothyroidism often continues as long as the drug is taken and resolves as soon as you stop the drug causing it, while the hypothyroidism related to radiation thyroiditis is usually permanent.
Thyroid function tests and thyroid antibody tests can be done for diagnosis of drug induced thyroiditis where as only a thyroid function tests can detect radiation induced thyroiditis.
Symptoms may include occasionally painful thyroid, generalized or severe illness and occasional mild hypothyroidism. The symptoms resolves after treatment of infectious cause. Thyroid function tests, radioactive iodine uptake and fine needle aspiration biopsy can be done to diagnose this condition.