The thyroid is the butterfly-shaped gland in your neck that produces hormones to control your body’s growth and metabolism.
Thyroiditis is inflammation of the thyroid gland. Mr James Kirkby-Bott talks about why the thyroid becomes inflamed and what can be done to treat the inflammation.
What are the symptoms of an inflamed thyroid?
- Discomfort in the neck
- Voice changes; it may feel as if you’ve lost your voice
- Difficulty or discomfort swallowing; it might feel that there’s something stuck in your neck or throat
Symptoms can also be more widespread such as:
- Aches and pains
- A feeling of being unwell
Thyroiditis can also cause abnormal thyroid functioning whereby either too much or too little thyroid hormone is produced, causing under-activity or overactivity of the thyroid.
Why would my thyroid be inflamed?
How long does an inflamed thyroid last?
A short-lived viral illness could last a few weeks, whereas an autoimmune condition is more likely to be lifelong, though any symptoms may disappear after a period of several months.
Usually, the inflammation increases the blood supply to the gland and this can cause an overactive gland - hyperthyroidism. As the inflammation continues, the gland will stop working as well as normal and become underactive or hypothyroid. After years the gland itself can almost become undetectable as it destroys itself.
How do you treat an inflamed thyroid/thyroiditis?
Thyroiditis can be detected with a blood test to measure the presence and amount of an antibody against the thyroid called thyroid peroxidase. Thyroiditis should not be treated with surgery, but occasionally a thyroid that does need surgery can be a bit inflamed. Grave’s disease can be the cause of the inflammation and often surgery is recommended for Grave’s disease, but inflammation makes surgery very difficult and increases the risk of complications. Knowing if a thyroid gland is inflamed or how inflamed it might be can help inform decision-making in thyroid disease.
Usually, thyroiditis is treated symptomatically and when the gland becomes underactive the thyroid function will need replacing with thyroid hormone (levothyroxine). It can take some time to get the dose correct and the dose may increase as the gland becomes more damaged by the inflammatory process.
If you have any more questions about thyroiditis or you feel that you may have this condition, book a consultation with endocrine and general surgeon Mr James Kirkby-Bott.