Thyroiditis is the broad term for many conditions in which the thyroid gland is inflamed. Depending on the severity, thyroiditis may or may not produce any symptoms or need to be treated.
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is a type of inflammation of the thyroid gland that results from an autoimmune process. It is the most common cause of Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism (in which the inflammation results in an underactive thyroid gland) in the U.S. However, some individuals with Hashimoto's thyroiditis may never develop hypothyroidism and thus never have any symptoms.
Infectious thyroiditis is inflammation of the thyroid gland resulting from an infection in the thyroid. Patients with this will usually have neck pain, enlargement of the thyroid gland, and symptoms of an infection, such as fever and generalized body aches.
Painless thyroiditis is an inflammation of the thyroid gland in which there is a short period of both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. The thyroid gland is not painful. Both usually resolve without treatment. Painess postpartum thyroiditis refers to this disorder when it occurs in women who were recently pregnant.
Subacute thyroiditis is similar to painless thyroiditis, in which there is a short period of both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. However, individuals with this disorder usually have exquisite neck pain. The hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism usually both resolve, but treatment for pain and discomfort may be required.
Inflammation of the thyroid gland may also occur in individuals who are taking certain medications, including amiodarone, lithium, and interferon. Radiation of the neck can also result in thyroiditis. The hyperthyroid and hypothyroid phases of thyroid inflammation can be managed usually with medications alone.
Fibrous thyroiditis is an extremely rare condition in which the thyroid becomes hardened from a significant inflammatory process in the thyroid that extends locally in the neck. Surgery may be required to treat this condition.
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