The thyroid gland influences almost all the metabolic processes in the human body through the hormones it releases. The swelling or inflammation of this butterfly-shaped gland, when triggered by an immune response is known as Silent Thyroiditis. It can lead to hyperthyroidism i.e. the overproduction of hormones followed by hypothyroidism or insufficient hormone production.
The exact cause of this thyroid disorder is unknown but it is known to affect more women than men. Women who have just delivered a baby are also more vulnerable to this disorder. Some of the probable causes for this condition are autoimmune responses, discontinuation of steroid therapy, removal of the adrenal gland and treatment for cancer. A family history of silent thyroiditis can also increase a person’s risk of suffering from this disease.
In its early stages, the symptoms of this disorder are those of a hyperactive thyroid gland. These symptoms can last for as long as 3 months. In most cases, these symptoms are mild. In some cases, people may not experience these symptoms at all and may only notice symptoms of the second stage of this disorder or hypothyroidism. The most commonly experienced symptoms of this disorder include:
Insomnia or difficulty falling asleep
Tiredness and weakness
Frequent bowel movements
Irregular menstruation: this may be short in the early stages and heavy in later stages
Nervousness and palpitations
Silent Thyroiditis can be diagnosed by a doctor through a physical examination and a few tests. Some of the signs your doctor will look out for are:
An enlarged thyroid gland
Faster heart rate
Involuntary trembling or shaking of hands
In addition to this test results which indicate Silent Thyroiditis are:
A reduced radioactive iodine uptake
Increased levels of T3 and T4 thyroid hormones in the blood
Presence of white blood cells in a thyroid biopsy
An early diagnosis can help make the treatment of this disorder easier. The treatment of this disease is dependent on the symptoms showcased. Beta blockers are commonly prescribed to relieve the excessive sweating and rapid heartbeat.
In most cases, the acute phase of this disorder will end in three months and the condition will resolve itself within a year. Over time, some people may develop hypothyroidism as a result of this condition. Hence, you should get yourself regularly checked up even after the symptoms have disappeared.