What Is Subacute Thyroiditis And How Can It Be Treated

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We address the important points surrounding subacute thyroiditis, including treatment options.
RELATED: Hyperthyroidism Symptoms: 11 Signs You Have An Overactive Thyroid

Top Things You Need To Know About Subacute Thyroiditis

What Is Subacute Thyroiditis?

Subacute thyroiditis is a rare type of thyroiditis which causes inflammation of the thyroid.
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located at the front part of the neck that releases hormones. These hormones help with metabolism in order to provide energy to the body.
When thyroiditis occurs, it slows down the metabolism and interferes with and disrupts the production of hormones.

Why Does Subacute Thyroiditis Occur?

Subacute thyroiditis is characterized by an attack on the immune system by a viral infection or a post-viral inflammatory process. Because of the virus, the thyroid becomes inflamed.
Cases of subacute thyroiditis are often temporary but may cause permanent effects if left untreated.
RELATED: Thyroid Nodules: Symptoms & Treatments

Who Is Susceptible to Subacute Thyroiditis?

Subacute thyroiditis occurs commonly in women ages 40 to 50 years old. Men of this age group show less tendency for this condition and the reasons for it are not yet fully known.
This condition also usually results from problems with the upper respiratory tract since the viral infection causing subacute thyroiditis may come from it.

When Do Signs and Symptoms Start to Show?

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The symptoms of subacute thyroiditis usually last for 12 to 18 months. They start to develop as mere neck pain and fever.
The neck pain, then, shifts from one part to another, usually in the jaw and ears. The result is difficulty in swallowing and enlargement of the thyroid.
The course of symptoms for people with subacute thyroiditis usually starts out with the symptoms of hyperthyroidism and later on develops into symptoms of hypothyroidism.
Hyperthyroidism symptoms include:

  • excessive sweating due to higher body temperature
  • restlessness
  • anxiety
  • weight loss
  • frequent bowel movements
  • unstable heart rate
  • intolerance to heat

When it starts to escalate into hypothyroidism, symptoms will start to show as:

  • hair loss
  • constipation
  • weight gain
  • intolerance to cold
  • dry, rough, and pale skin
  • fatigue
  • dry hair
  • abnormal menstrual cycles
  • difficulty with memory

How Is Subacute Thyroiditis Diagnosed?

Diagnosis of subacute thyroiditis is primarily clinical. The doctor will examine the thyroid gland for size and inflammation.
The doctor will also check for the other symptoms mentioned above, and on the medical history of the patient, especially if the patient has recently experienced a problem with the upper respiratory tract.
Blood and hormones levels and activities may also be checked to confirm if the inflammation has already affected the hormonal production of the person.

Where Should You Go for Treatment?

The symptoms of subacute thyroiditis usually dissolve within a few months. Even so, it is still important to get proper treatment from a primary care doctor.
He or she may prescribe medications to prevent it from recurring and developing into hypothyroidism:

  • Beta-blockers – reduce symptoms of anxiety and irregularity of the heartbeat during the early stage of the condition
  • Over-the-counter drugs – aspirin and ibuprofen help reduce the inflammation and discomfort
  • Corticosteroids – alleviate the swelling of the thyroid

To learn more about subacute thyroiditis, watch this video from Health Apta:

Subacute thyroiditis is best treated in its earliest stage. If the symptoms mentioned above start to show, the best option is to immediately consult the doctor for diagnosis and proper medication.
Do you have your own subacute thyroiditis stories? Share it with us in the comments section below!
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