Thyroiditis is an inflammation of the thyroid gland. There are several types of thyroiditis, but each of them generally produce three phases: overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism), underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), and return to normal. It usually takes one year to complete this cycle. Young to middle-aged women seem most at risk, although some forms of thyroiditis are seen in both men and women of all ages. With some forms, hypothyroidism may develop years later even if the thyroiditis has resolved.

Signs and Symptoms

Depending on the type of thyroiditis, the thyroid gland can have one of the following characteristics. You may also have one or more of the following symptoms.

What Causes It?

Thyroiditis can be caused by immune disorders, viruses, and fever disorders. Sometimes thyroiditis develops if you have Graves' disease (a thyroid disorder). In some cases, there is no identifiable cause.

What to Expect at Your Provider's Office

Your health care provider will feel your neck to see what the thyroid gland feels like and may order blood tests to check the levels of thyroid hormones and other factors. You may be given pain medication or something to help you feel more normal.

Treatment Options

Thyroiditis generally involves three phases: overactive phase, underactive phase, and return to normal. Treatment is individualized to type and phase.

Drug Therapies

Depending on the particular type of thyroiditis, a physician may prescribe one or some of the following treatments:

Surgical and Other Procedures

Partial thyroid removal: to relieve pressure

Complementary and Alternative Therapies

Alternative therapies can help when used along with the medications your provider prescribes.

Nutrition Your health care provider may also recommend specific nutritional supplements for a hyperthyroid or hypothyroid condition.

Herbs may be used as dried extracts (capsules, powders, teas), glycerites (glycerine extracts), or tinctures (alcohol extracts). Unless otherwise indicated, teas should be made with 1 tsp. herb per cup of hot water. Steep covered 5 to 10 minutes for leaf or flowers, and 10 to 20 minutes for roots. Drink 2 to 4 cups per day.

For hyperthyroid conditions: For hypothyroid conditions: Homeopathy
Homeopathy may be useful as a supportive therapy for both "hyper" and "hypo" conditions of the thyroid.

Physical Medicine
For hyperthyroid conditions: For hypothyroid conditions: Acupuncture
Acupuncture may be helpful in correcting hormonal imbalances and addressing underlying deficiencies and excesses involved in thyroiditis.

Therapeutic massage may relieve stress and increase the sense of well-being.

Following Up

Your health care provider may need to check you each year.

Special Considerations

If you are pregnant or just had a baby, you may develop Hashimoto's thyroiditis.


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