Site Map

Subacute thyroiditis

De Quervain's thyroiditis; Subacute nonsuppurative thyroiditis; Giant cell thyroiditis; Subacute granulomatous thyroiditis; Hyperthyroidism - subacute thyroiditis

Subacute thyroiditis is an immune reaction of the thyroid gland that often follows an upper respiratory infection.

The thyroid gland is located in the neck, just above where your collarbones meet in the middle.

Images

Endocrine glands
Thyroid gland

I Would Like to Learn About:

Causes

Subacute thyroiditis is an uncommon condition. It is thought to be the result of a viral infection. The condition often occurs a few weeks after a viral infection of the ear, sinus, or throat, such as mumps, the flu, or a common cold.

Subacute thyroiditis occurs most often in middle-aged women with symptoms of a viral upper respiratory tract infection in the past month.

Symptoms

The most obvious symptom of subacute thyroiditis is pain in the neck caused by a swollen and inflamed thyroid gland. Sometimes, the pain can spread (radiate) to the jaw or ears. The thyroid gland may be painful and swollen for weeks or, in rare cases, months.

Other symptoms include:

The inflamed thyroid gland may release too much thyroid hormone, causing symptoms of hyperthyroidism, including:

As the thyroid gland heals, it may release too little hormone, causing symptoms of hypothyroidism, including:

Thyroid gland function often returns to normal over a few months. During this time you may need treatment for your underactive thyroid. In rare cases, hypothyroidism may be permanent.

Exams and Tests

Laboratory tests that may be done include:

In some cases, a thyroid biopsy may be done.

Treatment

The goal of treatment is to reduce pain and treat hyperthyroidism, if it occurs. Drugs such as aspirin or ibuprofen are used to control pain in mild cases.

More serious cases may need short-term treatment with drugs that reduce swelling, such as prednisone. Symptoms of an overactive thyroid are treated with a class of drugs called beta-blockers.

If the thyroid becomes underactive during the recovery phase, thyroid hormone replacement may be needed.

Outlook (Prognosis)

The condition should improve on its own. But the illness may last for months. Long-term or severe complications do not often occur.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if:

Prevention

Vaccines that prevent viral infections such as the flu may help prevent subacute thyroiditis. Other causes may not be preventable.

Related Information

Hyperthyroidism

References

Davies TF, Laurberg P, Bahn RS. Hyperthyroid disorders. In: Melmed S, Polonsky KS, Larsen PR, Kronenberg HM, eds. Williams Textbook of Endocrinology. 13th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 12.

Guimaraes VC. Subacute and Riedel's thyroiditis. In: Jameson JL, De Groot LJ, de Kretser DM, et al, eds. Endocrinology: Adult and Pediatric. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 87.

BACK TO TOP

Review Date: 2/22/2018  

Reviewed By: Brent Wisse, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology & Nutrition, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

ADAM Quality Logo

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, for Health Content Provider (www.urac.org). URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information and services. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial policy, editorial process and privacy policy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics. This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information: verify here.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2019 A.D.A.M., a business unit of Ebix, Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Firefox and Google Chrome browser.