What Is Thyroiditis?

Thyroiditis is the medical term for inflammation or swelling that occurs in the thyroid gland. This swelling can cause thyroid hormone levels in the blood to be higher or even lower than normal. The thyroid is a gland located in the neck area that serves to produce important hormones of the body, to then be released into the bloodstream. These hormones work to regulate growth and metabolism in the body. In addition, the hormones produced by the thyroid gland also play an important role in controlling heart rate, body temperature, and help convert food into the body into energy.

There are several types of thyroiditis, and they are distinguished on the basis of the clinical manifestations of the cause. Some of the most common types include Hashimoto's thyroiditis, postpartum thyroiditis, silent / painless thyroiditis, drug induced thyroiditis, radiated induced thyroiditis, subacute thyroiditis or de Quervain, and acute thyroiditis or infection.

Causes of thyroiditis
The causes of thyroiditis vary, depending on the type. Here are some types of thyroiditis and its causes:
  • Hashimoto's thyroiditis - This type of thyroiditis is most common, where the cause is an autoimmune condition. Autoimmune conditions cause the immune system to accidentally attack the thyroid gland until it becomes swollen and eventually damaged. This damage causes the thyroid gland is unable to produce enough thyroid hormone so that the thyroid hormone levels in the blood become low, or called hypothyroidism.
  • Postpartum thyroiditis - This condition resembles Hashimoto's thyroiditis, where the cause is autoimmune. However, this thyroiditis is only experienced by women after going through labor. In most cases, thyroid hormone levels will return to normal within 12 months after delivery.
  • Silical / painless thyroiditis - Silent / painless thyroiditis is also caused by autoimmune conditions. At first, thyroid hormone levels in the blood will increase because the thyroid gland works excessively. After that, the thyroid gland will experience a phase of fatigue, where eventually thyroid levels will fall below normal. This silent thyroiditis will usually heal itself in 12 to 18 months.
  • Drug-induced thyroiditis - Some drugs can be a trigger for thyroiditis, a type of cancer drug agent, lithium , amiodarone , and interferon . These drugs can make the thyroid gland becomes very active or vice versa, not working properly. Symptoms usually disappear when drug administration is stopped.
  • Radiation-induced thyroiditis - Treatment of radiotherapy or radioactive iodine commonly used to treat cancer can also damage the thyroid gland and affect the amount of thyroid hormone produced.
  • Subacute thyroiditis or de Quervain - Swollen thyroid gland induced by viral infections, such as flu or mumps. This condition is generally experienced by women aged 20-50 years.
  • Acute thyroiditis or infection - This condition is triggered by a bacterial infection and is a relatively rare condition and usually affects children.
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Symptoms of thyroiditis
In addition to being characterized by swelling of the thyroid, the symptoms of thyroiditis will depend on the type of damage that occurs. If the damage causes the thyroid gland work to increase ( hyperthyroidism ), symptoms that will appear include:
  • Always feel tired
  • Weak muscles
  • Often feel thirsty
  • Frequency of urination increased
  • Itchy
  • It's hard to keep quiet
  • Mood swings
  • Nervous, anxious, and irritable
  • Hard to sleep
  • Diarrhea
  • Sensitive to heat
  • Loss of sexual passion
Conversely, if the activity of the thyroid gland decreases (hypothyroidism), the resulting symptoms include:
  • Pain and weak muscles
  • Have an unnecessary menstrual period or or amount of excessive bleeding during menstruation
  • Muscle cramp
  • Dry and scaly skin
  • Hair and nails are fragile
  • The decline of movement and way of thinking
  • Sensitive to cold
  • Rising weight
  • Constipation
  • Depression
  • Loss of sexual passion
  • Pain or numbness in the fingers and hands
Symptoms of hyperthyroidism will be seen in drug-induced thyroiditis, radiation induced thyroiditis, and acute thyroiditis or infection. However, these three types can also show symptoms of hypothyroidism, depending on the response of each person. In addition, symptoms of hypothyroidism will also appear in Hashimoto's thyroiditis. In some conditions such as subacute / de Quervain thyroiditis, postpartum thyroiditis, and silent thyroiditis, patients will experience symptoms of hyperthyroidism in the early phases of the disease, followed by subsequent hypothyroidism.

Diagnosis of Thyroiditis
When diagnosing thyroiditis, your doctor will usually start by asking for a history of the illness and symptoms of the patient. In addition, the doctor will also perform a thorough physical examination, and will find any swelling in the thyroid region.

Your doctor may perform a thyroid function test to determine the type of thyroiditis you have. This test is useful to see the function and the amount of thyroid hormone in the blood. This thyroid function test will also show the amount of hormone produced by the pituitary gland and the number of antibodies present.

In addition, the doctor may perform several other tests to help establish the diagnosis, including:
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in the brain if suspected that thyroiditis is caused by a disorder of the pituitary or hypothalamus.
  • Ultrasonography to check whether large glands suppress the esophagus or trachea, or other areas.
  • Iodine radioactive test to measure the ability of thyroid to absorb iodine, thyroid hormone producing minerals.

Treatment of thyroiditis
Some types of thyroid can not be cured, such as Hashimoto's thyroiditis, and some others may be reduced or improved with the help of hormone replacement. Thus the treatment of thyroiditis depends on the type and symptoms experienced.
  • Hashimoto's thyroiditis - Treatment using replacement thyroid hormones will be given to reduce perceived symptoms, for example with drugs containing l evothyroxine and consumed for life. The surgical procedure is only necessary if the lump growing in the throat becomes very disturbing or suspected as a cancer cell.
  • Postpartum thyroiditis - Patients of this type may have to undergo treatment with replacement thyroid hormone until the condition improves or even for a longer time if thyroid levels remain low.
  • Silent or painless thyroiditis - Symptoms can be reduced by replacing thyroid hormone until conditions improve or last a lifetime if low thyroid levels are permanent.
  • Drug-induced thyroiditis - Symptoms can be reduced by stopping medications that trigger thyroiditis or other drugs according to physician recommendations. Other medications that may be administered are NSAID-type anthrax drugs and corticosteroid drugs if necessary.
  • Radiation-induced thyroiditis - Symptoms can be reduced by replacement thyroid hormones that may have to be consumed for life.
  • Subacute thyroiditis or de Quervain - Perceived symptoms can be reduced with beta-blocker drugs, painkillers, and NSAIDs such as ibuprofen (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), and corticosteroid-containing medications if necessary. Treatment using long-term replacement thyroid hormone may be necessary if the condition is recurrent or the thyroid hormone is within the lower limit.
  • Acute thyroiditis or infection - Symptoms can be reduced by administering antibiotics to treat infections and NSAIDs. The surgical procedure is usually required by the child sufferer to remove part of the abnormal thyroid gland.
Patients with thyroiditis may have to undergo a special dietary diet so that her condition does not deteriorate. Discuss with your doctor about what foods should be consumed or should be avoided.

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