The term Thyroiditis is used to describe a group of disorder that could be caused by the inflammation of the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is a butterfly shaped gland in the front of the neck that is responsible for secreting hormones that are responsible for metabolism.
Thyroiditis can result from a number of different causes: it can occur when the immune system of the body malfunctions and starts to view the thyroid gland as foreign tissue producing antibodies to attack it. Certain viral and bacterial infections could also cause thyroid inflammation, as can some types of medications.
The symptoms of thyroid disease depend upon the type of inflammation and its level of severity so we look at various different types of problems that could result from thyroid inflammation.
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis
It is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the US, is an autoimmune disease that usually manifests in hypothyroidism interspersed with periods of hyperthyroidism.
The symptoms of this disorder could be slow or fast resting heart rate, weight gain, depression, anxiety, mania, panic attacks and some types of psychosis, memory problems, hair loss, infertility, migraines, weakness of the muscles, fatigue, extra sensitivity to cold and heat and paresthesia (feelings of pins and needles or numbness, or tingling).
Some women experience hyper or hypo thyroid during the months after a pregnancy, with some women going on to develop lifelong hypothyroidism; however, in the majority of cases, this resolves with time (self-limiting).
Heat intolerance, palpitations, irritability, nervousness and unexplained fatigue are the usual symptoms of the hyperthyroid postpartum disorder. With hypothyroidism, the symptoms may include low energy levels, difficulty in concentrating or remembering, dry skin, cold intolerance, and general aches and pains. The hyperthyroidism could be followed by the hypothyroidism and may occur about 2 to 6 months after birth in about 5% of new mothers.
Subacute lymphocytic thyroiditis
This condition is also called silent or painless thyroid and is known to be more common in women regardless of their age. A feature of this type of the disorder is a small goiter otherwise it may have few bothersome symptoms. The condition is usually diagnosed only with the help of a radioactive iodine uptake test.
There are certain medications that can damage thyroid cells and result in thyroid imbalances. Medications such as interferon (which act as antiviral agents and also have the ability to fight tumors) and amiodarone (medications used to address arrhythmia or irregular beating of the heart). These medications are thought to be responsible for thyroid imbalances in some cases.
Radiation is often used to treat cancer, and when it is used to treat cancers of the head, neck or the lymph nodes (lymphomas), the radiation can impact the thyroid gland and make it malfunction. Also people who have received treatment of radioactive iodine for Graves’s disease could be at risk of developing the disorder. Exposure to radioactivity typically causes destruction of thyroid tissue which leads to pain, tenderness and other symptoms.
This type of thyroid problem is rare and is known to be caused by bacterial infections.
The treatment that a woman will get depends upon the type of thyroid inflammation disorder that she has and the severity or acuity of the condition and its symptoms.
When palpitations are among the symptoms, beta-blockers can help tremors and shakes. This medication is typically tapered off once the thyrotoxic phase of the imbalance is over.
Hormone replacement therapy is the most widely used treatment for thyroid problems, particularly Hashimoto’s disease. The dosage of the medication may varied if required, increased or decreased to see what is suitable for a given individual and their disease, and is often tapered to see if the person can manage without the medication or whether it is needed permanently.
It is one of the features of treatment/management of this disease that when a person is diagnosed with it, they may have to take medications for it for the rest of their life.
Pain can be one of the symptoms of thyroiditis which can be managed by using aspirin or ibuprofen medications. Sometimes the pain may be severe enough that steroid therapy is used.