The Basics of Thyroiditis

The thyroid gland is one of the many glands that contribute to the body’s proper functioning. The thyroid gland is mostly responsible for the body’s efficient metabolism. However, there may be factors that weaken the thyroid gland thereby causing the development of thyroid gland disorders. One of these disorders includes thyroiditis.

What is Thyroiditis?

Thyroiditis is a term used to denote inflamed or swollen thyroid gland. Thyroiditis comprises of a certain group of separate disorders that cause thyroidal swelling that is presented in various ways. Some of these thyroid disorders include:

Causes of Thyroiditis

Generally, thyroiditis is triggered due to an attack to the thyroid gland. This attack may come from varying agents or factors. Such attack will then cause swelling as well as damage to the thyroid cells. These varying agents or factors include:

Thyroiditis occurs when the thyroid gland is “attacked” causing it to inflame or swell. This “attack” also causes a certain degree of damage to the thyroid cells. Such attack may be bacterial or viral in nature.

Most often, many cases or kinds of thyroiditis could be caused by the antibodies’ attack to the thyroid gland. That said, thyroiditis is also frequently an autoimmune ailment such as rheumatoid arthritis as well as Type 1 Diabetes or Juvenile Diabetes. Up to date, it is still unknown as to why some individuals create anti-thyroid antibodies, although most cases are observed to be genetically related.

Drug intake may also induce inflammation or swelling of the thyroid gland. Such drugs or medications include interferon. With interferon-induced thyroiditis is interferon therapy causes the production of cytokines in the thyroid cells as well as trigger thyroid cell death upon the release of the antigens in the thyroid. This will further lead to the development of autoimmune thyroiditis.[2] Other drugs would include lithium as well as amiodarone.

Another possible cause of thyroiditis could be radiation induced. This is mostly the kind of radiation utilized in medical therapies and treatments such as radiation used for cancer treatment. Radioactive iodine used to manage hyperthyroidism may also be another example.[3]

Other possible causes may also include iodine, pregnancy, smoking, or even stress. [4]

Symptoms of Thyroiditis

There are no symptoms unique to thyroiditis. Varying symptoms may be exhibited depending on the kind of thyroiditis that has already developed. Possible symptoms would include symptoms of hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.

Possible Treatment for Thyroiditis

Treatment for thyroiditis mostly depends on the kind of thyroiditis that the patient has. It is also dependent on the symptoms that have already occurred. Most often, there are medications that can be taken as well as hormone therapies through pill intake. Another treatment method may be via radioactive iodine. As last resort, surgery may be an option if your doctor deems that other treatment methods are no longer working or cannot be tolerated well by the patient.


[1] Thyroiditis.

[2] Interferon alpha treatment and thyroid dysfunction. Tomer Y, Blackard JT, Akeno N; Endocrinol Metab Clin North Am. 2007 Dec; 36(4):1051-66; x-xi.

[3] Thyroiditis.

[4] Hepatitis C and interferon induced thyroiditis. Tomer Y; J Autoimmun. 2010 May; 34(3):J322-6.

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