Thyroiditis

Thyroiditis is a general term that encompasses several clinical disorders characterized by inflammation of the thyroid gland. The most common is Hashimoto thyroiditis; patients typically present with a nontender goiter, hypothyroidism, and an elevated thyroid peroxidase antibody level. Treatment with levothyroxine ameliorates the hypothyroidism and may reduce goiter size. Postpartum thyroiditis is transient or persistent thyroid dysfunction that occurs within one year of childbirth, miscarriage, or medical abortion. Release of preformed thyroid hormone into the bloodstream may result in hyperthyroidism. This may be followed by transient or permanent hypothyroidism as a result of depletion of thyroid hormone stores and destruction of thyroid hormone–producing cells. Patients should be monitored for changes in thyroid function. Beta blockers can treat symptoms in the initial hyperthyroid phase; in the subsequent hypothyroid phase, levothyroxine should be considered in women with a serum thyroid-stimulating hormone level greater than 10 mIU per L, or in women with a thyroid-stimulating hormone level of 4 to 10 mIU per L who are symptomatic or desire fertility. Subacute thyroiditis is a transient thyrotoxic state characterized by anterior neck pain, suppressed thyroid-stimulating hormone, and low radioactive iodine uptake on thyroid scanning. Many cases of subacute thyroiditis follow an upper respiratory viral illness, which is thought to trigger an inflammatory destruction of thyroid follicles. In most cases, the thyroid gland spontaneously resumes normal thyroid hormone production after several months. Treatment with high-dose acetylsalicylic acid or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs is directed toward relief of thyroid pain.

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