Thyroiditis || Inflammation of thyroid
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What is thyroiditis?

Thyroiditis refers to inflammation of the thyroid gland. The causes of thyroiditis can be varied. It may be due to an autoimmune process or a combination of autoimmune and infection or the after effects of an viral infection. Rarely radiation and certain medicines like lithium used for psychiatric diseases can be a cause.


A. Normal Gland  B.Thyroiditis

A bag of confusing enitities..

Thyroiditis can present in different ways and this can confuse the patient and sometimes the doctors alike. For example a patient with Hashimoto's thyroiditis can have normally functioning thyroid gland for a long period of time and later become hypothyroid. Sometimes these patients can develop thyrotoxicosis (Excess thyroid hormone) for a short while after a pregnancy and delivery and later become hypothyroid.

Thyroiditis and neck pain

Thyroiditis need not always cause pain in the neck, as in silent or painless thyroiditis which can cause symptoms due to leakage of thyroid hormone causing excess hormone levels in the blood. However sometimes the pain can be severe and radiate to the ears as with viral thyroiditis or de Quervain's thyroiditis. This can cause confusion with a bacterial infection of the thyroid causing pus formation.While many of these may subside themselves we should not forget that autoimmune thyroiditis is the major cause of thyroid failure leading to hypothyroidism.

What causes thyroiditis?

The most common cause for thyroiditis is autoimmunity. Sometimes virus or bacteria can cause infection in the thyroid gland.

How does autoimmunity cause thyroiditis?

Our immune system polices our bodies preventing invasion by bacteria and viruses. This powerful system has safeguards to prevent attacking our own cells.

Hashimoto's Thyroiditis occurs when the body's immune system attacks ones own thyroid gland. This apparently suicidal attack may be triggered by several factors:

  • A virus very similar to our thyroid cells may confuse the immune system. 
  • Damage to the gland might expose it to immune system. 
  • Genetically in some families immune system may be more prone to making errors in recognizing self.
  • Pregnancy and stress may cause immune system to go berserk.