The inflammation or swelling of the thyroid gland is called thyroiditis. It is caused by the attack of certain agents, such as antibodies, drugs, radiation or bacteria, on the thyroid. Hence, thyroiditis can be an autoimmune disease, a disease in which the body attacks itself. There are three phases of thyroiditis:

  • Thyrotoxic phase in which the thyroid produces excessive hormones. This is the initial phase.

  • Hypothyroid phase in which the thyroid does not have enough hormones to release after the initial phase of excessive hormones production.

  • Euthyroid phase in which the thyroid functions normally. This phase may come temporarily between thyrotoxic phase and hypothyroid phase or after the hypothyroid phase when the inflammation has been treated.

There are different types of thyroiditis depending on the agent causing the inflammation, including:

  • Acute thyroiditis caused by infectious organism or bacteria. It is relatively rare.

  • Drug-induced thyroiditis caused by the use of drugs. It is uncommon in normal population.

  • Hashimoto’s thyroiditis caused by anti-thyroid antibodies. This is most prevalent in women than in men and is most common in normal population. 

  • Post-partum thyroiditis caused by anti-thyroid antibodies in women after delivery.

  • Radiation-induced thyroiditis caused when a person is exposed to external radiations during cancer treatments or by radioactive iodine to treat hyperthyroidism.

  • Silent thyroiditis caused by anti-thyroid antibodies, most common in women and second most common after the Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.

  • Sub acute thyroiditis caused by a virus. It is often painful. 

The symptoms of thyroiditis depend on the type and cause of the disease.

 Symptoms during hyperthyroid phase include:

  • Feeling worried or irritable

  • Increased heart rate

  • Tiredness

  • Unexplainable weight loss

  • Troubled sleep cycle

  • Increased sweating and heat intolerance

  • Increased hunger

  • Tremors​

  • Anxiety and nervousness

Symptoms during hypothyroid phase include:

  • Tiredness

  • Depression

  • Dry skin

  • Unexplainable weight gain

  • Decreased concentration and focus

  • Constipation​

  • Difficulty in performance physical exercise​​​

Consult one of our highly skilled doctors at Internal Medicine Service Line​ if you notice any swelling in your lower neck area along with any of the above mentioned symptoms. ​
Your time with your doctor maybe limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here are some tips to help get you started.​

Tests for thyroiditis involve:

  • Thyroid function test which is a blood test to measure the levels of thyroid hormones, T3 and T4, and TSH in your blood. Increased levels of thyroid hormones and decreased levels of TSH indicate hyperthyroidism.

  • Thyroid antibody test which is a blood test to measure thyroid antibodies.

  • Erythrocyte sedimentation rate which is also a blood test that indicates inflammation by measuring the rate at which the red blood cells decrease.

  • Ultrasound of the thyroid to produce an image on the screen that can be studied by your doctor to determine the change in blood flow and the presence of nodules on the gland, if any.

  • Radioactive iodine uptake test in which you are asked to orally ingest radioactive iodine. The rate at which the iodine is absorbed by your thyroid gland is checked. The amount is low in the thyrotoxic phase.

  • Thyroid scan in which a special camera and radioactive isotope, injected in your vein, is used to produce images of your thyroid to be studied by the doctor. 

  • Fine-needle aspiration biopsy to collect a sample of the thyroid tissue, using a long thin needle inserted through the skin, for testing.​​

Your doctor will carry out a treatment plan that will depend on the phase, type and symptoms of the thyroiditis. 

Treatments for the phases include:

  • For the thyrotoxic phase, generally no treatment is given as it is a temporary phase that will eventually recover or move onto the euthyroid phase or to the hypothyroid phase.

  • For the hypothyroid phase, hormone replacement therapy is used until the disease is cured. 

Treatments for the symptoms include:

  • Beta blockers to treat palpitation, anxiety, tremors, heat intolerance and increased sweating.

  • Anti-inflammatory medications for thyroidal pain.

  • Steroid therapy for severe thyroidal pain.

Treatments for the types include:

  • Drug- induced thyroid normally lasts as long as the drugs are taken and may not require a treatment.

  • Hashimoto’s thyroiditis causes hypothyroidism permanently and will require you to take hormone replacement therapy for life.

  • Sub acute, post-partum and silent thyroiditis do not require any treatment. 

  • Acute thyroiditis is cured once then infection causing it is treated.​

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.
The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the 'Important Numbers' section on the website homepage.
The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments' costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the 'Important Numbers' section on the website homepage.​
Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the 'Important Numbers' section on the website homepage.

The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.