Thyroiditis | Overview

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What is thyroiditis?

Thyroiditis refers to several disorders that cause an inflammation of the thyroid, a gland located in the front of your neck below your Adam's apple. The thyroid makes hormones that control metabolism, the pace of your body's processes. Metabolism includes things like your heart rate and how quickly you burn calories.

What are the different types of thyroiditis and how do they affect the body?

There are several types of thyroiditis.

  • Hashimoto's thyroiditis
    • Caused by antibodies that attack the thyroid.
    • Shows symptoms of hypothyroidism.
    • Results in permanent hypothyroidism, which can be treated.
  • Subacute thyroiditis (also called de Quervain's thyroiditis)
    • Possibly caused by a viral infection.
    • Causes pain in the thyroid and symptoms of hyperthyroidism, followed by hypothyroidism.
    • Symptoms improve within a few months. There is a slight chance of permanent hypothyroidism, which can be treated.
  • Silent thyroiditis
    • Shows symptoms of hyperthyroidism, followed by hypothyroidism.
    • Symptoms improve within 12 to 18 months. May result in permanent hypothyroidism.
  • Postpartum thyroiditis
    • Caused by antibodies that attack the thyroid after delivery of a child.
    • Four to 6 months after delivery, symptoms of hyperthyroidism appear, followed by hypothyroidism.
    • Symptoms improve within 12 to 18 months. May result in permanent hypothyroidism.
  • Drug-induced thyroiditis
    • Caused by prescription drugs such as amiodarone, lithium, interferons and cytokines.
    • Shows symptoms of hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism.
    • Symptoms continue as long as the drug is taken.
  • Radiation-induced thyroiditis
    • Follows treatment with radioactive iodine for hyperthyroidism or radiation therapy for certain cancers.
    • Most commonly shows symptoms of hypothyroidism.
    • Hypothyroidism is usually permanent, but can be treated.
  • Acute thyroiditis (also called suppurative thyroiditis)
    • Caused by bacteria or other infectious organisms.
    • Symptoms include a painful thyroid, generalized illness and occasionally symptoms of mild hypothyroidism.
    • Symptoms improve after treatment of the infectious cause.

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 01/11
Created: 09/07

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