As the name suggests, viral thyroiditis is the inflammation or swelling of the thyroid gland caused by a viral infection Autoimmune in nature.
Thyroid gland situated just in the neck above the collar bones. It is a principal hormone managing the metabolism of the body.
Viral thyroiditis follows a triphasic clinical course of hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, and sometimes returns to normal thyroid function. It is responsible for 15-20% of patients presenting with thyrotoxicosis. Hyperthyroidism is a disorder in which the thyroid is overactive and produces an excess of thyroid hormones. Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid is underactive and doesn’t make enough hormones. Both of these conditions can cause weight changes, anxiety, and fatigue.
Subacute thyroiditis can cause permanent complications if left untreated.
Following a viral infection, the thyroid gland swells and can disrupt hormone production. This causes inflammation and a variety of symptoms. The most common symptom of thyroiditis is a pain in the neck sometimes, the pain can spread to the jaw or ears.
Other symptoms include:
• Tenderness when gentle pressure is applied to the thyroid gland
• Difficulty swallowing, hoarseness of voice
• Fatigue, feeling weakness
The inflamed thyroid gland may release too much thyroid hormone, causing symptoms of hyperthyroidism, including:
• Weight loss, but with increased appetite
• Hair loss
• Heat intolerance
• Irregular menstrual periods in women
• Mood changes
• Nervousness, tremor
As the thyroid gland heals, it may release too little hormone, causing symptoms of hypothyroidism, including:
• Weight gain,
• Puffiness of face and leg swelling
• Dry skin
• Mood changes
• Cold intolerance
Thyroid gland function often returns to normal. But in some cases, hypothyroidism may be permanent.
A thyroid specialist will examine your neck to see if the thyroid gland is enlarged or inflamed and inquire about your symptoms and your recent medical history.
Blood tests will assess the level of thyroid hormones in the blood. in the initial stage of hyperthyroidism, your free T4 levels will be high. With the onset of the hypothyroid stage, your TSH levels will below. In the later stages, your TSH levels will be high while your T4 levels will below. Positive Ant thyroid antibody test called TPO Antibody test and ATG Antibody test can ascertain viral infection of the thyroid gland. An abnormal level of either hormone indicates Viral thyroiditis.
The symptoms of viral thyroiditis usually go away within 12 to 18 months. However, in some cases, hypothyroidism may end up being permanent. The American Thyroid Association estimates that approximately 5 per cent of people with subacute thyroiditis develop permanent hypothyroidism.