Thyroiditis is an inflammation of the thyroid gland. It should be considered seriously, as it can cause the destruction of the thyroid and thus the disappearance of thyroid hormones in the body, whose functions are numerous. It is most often caused by the production of antibodies that attack the thyroid, but in some cases may be infectious or of a parasitic origin. There are several types of thyroiditis, including:
- autoimmune thyroiditis, due to the destruction of thyroid cells by the body's own immune cells, which most often occurs in the case of Hashimoto's thyroiditis or atrophic thyroiditis;
- Subacute thyroiditis, which is viral;
- parasitic thyroiditis, or Chagas disease, which is caused by a parasite called Trypanosoma.
Generally, thyroiditis is manifested by an increase in the volume of the thyroid, with the characteristic appearance of a goiter
, a sort of swelling at the base of the neck. A goiter may itself be responsible for symptoms, by compressing the structures around it: it can cause difficulty breathing, difficulty eating or swallowing. Furthermore, depending on the effect generated by thyroiditis on the thyroid gland, there may be symptoms of hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism
. Mostly, the symptoms are those of a deficiency in thyroid hormones including weight gain, constipation
, nervousness, muscle cramps, and bradycardia
. But in the case of De Quervain's thyroiditis, or in the initial stages of most autoimmune thyroiditis, hyperthyroidism and clinical signs are present.
In suspected cases of thyroiditis, TSH, thyroid stimulating hormone that is normally screted by the throid gland, is measured to highlight hyper or hypofunction. Then, an ultrasound is frequently performed on a goiter. Research on blood markers of inflammation or antibodies specific to autoimmune thyroiditis is also often necessary to confirm the diagnosis.
Thyroiditis of infectious origin necessitates the use of a specific treatment against the germ or parasite involved. In the severe case of hypothyroidism, a hormonal treatment, allowing the supply of thyroid hormones to replace the non-functional gland is necessary.
There is no specific prevention of thyroiditis.
Original article published by
. Translated by Jeff