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Thyroiditis: Types, Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment


Thyroiditis, a condition characterized by inflammation of the thyroid gland, encompasses a range of disorders affecting this crucial endocrine organ. From autoimmune-driven assaults on thyroid tissue to viral infections and even medication-induced inflammation, thyroiditis manifests in diverse forms, each with its distinct triggers, symptoms, and management strategies. In this exploration, we will delve into the various types of thyroiditis, their underlying mechanisms, clinical manifestations, diagnostic approaches, and treatment modalities. Through this comprehensive overview, we aim to unravel the complexities of thyroiditis, shedding light on its impact and offering insights into effective therapeutic interventions.

What is thyroiditis?

Thyroiditis is a condition characterized by inflammation of the thyroid gland, presenting itself in various forms, each with distinct phases. Typically, most types of thyroiditis manifest in three phases:

1.Thyrotoxic phase: During this phase, the thyroid is inflamed and releases an excessive amount of hormones, causing temporary thyrotoxicosis.

2.Hypothyroid phase: Following the excessive release of thyroid hormones for a few weeks or months, the thyroid will not have enough hormones to release. This leads to a lack of thyroid hormones or hypothyroidism. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and radiation-induced thyroiditis usually permanently stay in the hypothyroid phase.

3.Euthyroid phase: During the euthyroid phase, thyroid hormone levels return to normal. This phase may occur temporarily after the thyrotoxic phase before progressing to the hypothyroid phase, or it may occur at the end after the thyroid gland has recovered from inflammation and can maintain a normal hormone level.

Types of thyroiditis:

Thyroiditis is a condition characterized by inflammation of the thyroid gland, presenting itself in various forms. Several types of thyroiditis are known, each with distinct characteristics, causes, and treatment approaches:

  • Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (Chronic Lymphocytic Thyroiditis):
  • An autoimmune disorder where the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the thyroid gland.
  • It typically progresses through the phases of thyrotoxicosis, hypothyroidism, and finally a euthyroid state.
  • Symptoms often include fatigue, weight gain, depression, and sensitivity to cold.

Subacute Thyroiditis (De Quervain’s Thyroiditis):

  • Often follows a viral infection and is believed to be triggered by a virus.
  • It presents with pain and tenderness in the thyroid gland and may also cause fever and fatigue.
  • The phases typically include a thyrotoxic phase, followed by a hypothyroid phase, and then a return to a euthyroid state.

Postpartum Thyroiditis:

  • Occurs in the first year after childbirth and is believed to be due to an autoimmune condition.
  • It typically goes through phases of hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, and then a return to normal thyroid function.
  • Symptoms include fatigue, depression, weight gain, and difficulty concentrating.

Silent Thyroiditis (Painless Thyroiditis):

  • Often occurs after pregnancy or in individuals with a history of other autoimmune disorders.
  • It is similar to subacute thyroiditis but without the pain and tenderness in the thyroid gland.
  • Phases usually include hyperthyroidism followed by hypothyroidism and then a return to normal thyroid function.

Radiation-Induced Thyroiditis:

  • Results from radiation treatment to the head, neck, or chest, often as part of cancer treatment.
  • Phases may include hyperthyroidism, followed by hypothyroidism, and can lead to permanent hypothyroidism.
  • Drug-Induced Thyroiditis:
  • Caused by medications such as amiodarone, interferon-alpha, and lithium.
  • The phases vary, but the condition may progress from hyperthyroidism to hypothyroidism.

Who does thyroiditis affect?

Thyroiditis, a thyroid gland inflammation, can affect anyone, regardless of age or gender. However, certain types of thyroiditis may be more common in specific groups. Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis primarily affects middle-aged women, but it can occur at any age and can also affect men and children. Postpartum Thyroiditis affects women who have recently given birth, typically occurring within the first year after childbirth. Subacute Thyroiditis (De Quervain’s Thyroiditis) mostly affects middle-aged women and can occur after a viral illness.

Silent Thyroiditis (also known as painless thyroiditis) is similar to postpartum thyroiditis and affects women more often than men. Radiation-induced Thyroiditis can occur in anyone exposed to radiation, particularly in children and young adults. Drug-induced Thyroiditis can occur in anyone taking medications that affect thyroid function. Acute Thyroiditis is rare and can affect anyone. Chronic Lymphocytic Thyroiditis (Ord’s Thyroiditis) can affect both men and women, typically between the ages of 30 and 50. If you suspect you have thyroiditis or have symptoms of thyroiditis, it is crucial to consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Symptoms & causes of thyroiditis:

Thyroiditis refers to inflammation of the thyroid gland, which can have various causes and symptoms. Here’s a breakdown:


  1. Pain or Discomfort: Some individuals may experience pain or discomfort in the thyroid gland area, located in the front of the neck.
  2. Swelling: Swelling or enlargement of the thyroid gland, known as goiter, can occur.
  3. Hypothyroidism Symptoms: Thyroiditis can cause an underactive thyroid gland, leading to symptoms such as fatigue, weight gain, constipation, dry skin, and sensitivity to cold.
  4. Hyperthyroidism Symptoms: In some cases, thyroiditis can cause an overactive thyroid gland, resulting in symptoms like weight loss, rapid heartbeat, sweating, nervousness, and irritability.
  5. Thyroid Function Fluctuations: Thyroiditis can cause fluctuations in thyroid hormone levels, leading to symptoms of both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.


  1. Autoimmune Thyroiditis (Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis): This is the most common cause of thyroiditis. It occurs when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the thyroid gland, leading to inflammation and eventual damage. The exact cause of the autoimmune response is not fully understood but likely involves a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
  2. Viral Infections: Viral infections, such as mumps, influenza, or Epstein-Barr virus, can trigger thyroiditis by causing inflammation of the thyroid gland. This type of thyroiditis is often temporary and resolves as the infection clears.
  3. Postpartum Thyroiditis: Some women may experience thyroid inflammation after giving birth. It typically occurs in two phases: an initial hyperthyroid phase followed by a hypothyroid phase. The exact cause is not well understood but is believed to involve immune system changes during pregnancy.
  4. Subacute Thyroiditis (De Quervain’s Thyroiditis): This type of thyroiditis often follows a viral infection and is characterized by painful swelling of the thyroid gland. It’s thought to be caused by a viral infection triggering an inflammatory response in the thyroid gland.
  5. Radiation Therapy: Thyroiditis can occur as a side effect of radiation therapy to the head, neck, or chest. Radiation can damage the thyroid gland and cause inflammation.
  6. Drug-induced Thyroiditis: Certain medications, such as interferon-alpha, amiodarone, and lithium, can cause inflammation of the thyroid gland as a side effect.

Diagnosis of thyroiditis:

Diagnosing thyroiditis involves a comprehensive approach encompassing medical history, physical examination, and various diagnostic tests.

  • Medical History and Physical Examination: Medical history and symptom evaluation are crucial for diagnosing thyroiditis. Healthcare providers inquire about symptoms like fatigue, weight changes, and neck discomfort. They review past medical conditions, family history, recent illnesses, and medications. Physical examination involves assessing the neck for signs of thyroid enlargement, tenderness, and other indicators of thyroid dysfunction.
  • Blood Tests: Thyroid function tests measure levels of thyroid hormones (TSH, T3, T4) and thyroid autoantibodies (e.g., anti-thyroid peroxidase antibodies). Abnormal levels can indicate thyroid dysfunction and aid in distinguishing different types of thyroiditis. Inflammatory markers such as CRP and ESR may be elevated in acute thyroiditis.
  • Imaging Studies: Ultrasound imaging visualizes the thyroid gland’s size, structure, and abnormalities like nodules or inflammation, assisting in differentiation between thyroiditis types. Radioactive Iodine Uptake (RAIU) scans, particularly useful in suspected subacute thyroiditis, assess thyroid function to confirm the diagnosis.
  • Fine-needle aspiration (FNA) Biopsy: If thyroid nodules or suspected cancer are present, FNA biopsy extracts cells from the thyroid gland for microscopic examination, aiding in diagnosis.
  • Other Tests: Tests for antithyroglobulin antibodies (TgAb), thyroid stimulating immunoglobulins (TSI), and thyroid antibodies help further evaluate autoimmune thyroiditis, distinguishing between Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and Graves’ disease.

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Treatment of thyroiditis:

The treatment of thyroiditis depends on the specific type and underlying cause. Here’s an overview of treatment approaches for different types of thyroiditis:

     1.Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (Autoimmune Thyroiditis):

  • Hormone Replacement Therapy: Since Hashimoto’s thyroiditis often leads to hypothyroidism, treatment typically involves lifelong thyroid hormone replacement therapy with synthetic thyroid hormones (levothyroxine) to restore normal thyroid hormone levels.

      2.Subacute Thyroiditis (De Quervain’s Thyroiditis):

  • Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs): Pain and inflammation associated with subacute thyroiditis can be managed with NSAIDs such as ibuprofen or aspirin.
  • Beta-Blockers: Beta-blocker medications may be prescribed to relieve symptoms of hyperthyroidism, such as palpitations and tremors, during the initial phase of subacute thyroiditis.
  • Supportive Care: Rest, adequate hydration, and over-the-counter pain relievers can help alleviate symptoms.

     3.Postpartum Thyroiditis:

  • Monitoring: Postpartum thyroiditis typically resolves on its own, but monitoring thyroid function is important. In some cases, hormone replacement therapy may be necessary if hypothyroidism persists.
  • Breastfeeding Considerations: Treatment options need to consider the effects of breastfeeding if applicable.

     4.Other Types of Thyroiditis:

  • Treatment of Underlying Cause: Treatment for thyroiditis caused by viral infections or medications involves addressing the underlying cause. This may include antiviral medications or discontinuation of the offending medication, under medical supervision.
  • Supportive Care: Symptomatic treatment with pain relievers, rest, and supportive measures may be recommended.

     5.Follow-Up Care:

  • Regular follow-up appointments with a healthcare provider are essential to monitor thyroid function, adjust medication dosages if needed, and address any changes in symptoms. In cases of autoimmune thyroiditis, ongoing management may involve collaboration with an endocrinologist or thyroid specialist.


In conclusion, thyroiditis encompasses a range of conditions characterized by inflammation of the thyroid gland, each requiring tailored treatment approaches. Here at Jaipur Hospital, recognized as the Best Endocrinology Hospital in Jaipur, our expert team of endocrinologists is dedicated to providing comprehensive care for patients with thyroiditis. Through a combination of advanced diagnostic techniques and personalized treatment plans, we strive to alleviate symptoms, restore thyroid function, and improve the overall quality of life for our patients. With a commitment to excellence and compassionate care, Jaipur Hospital stands as a beacon of hope for individuals grappling with thyroid disorders, offering support and guidance every step of the way.

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