Silent thyroiditis

  • Definition
    • Silent thyroiditis is an immune reaction of the thyroid gland. The disorder can cause hyperthyroidism, followed by hypothyroidism.

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

  • Alternative Names
    • Lymphocytic thyroiditis; Subacute lymphocytic thyroiditis; Painless thyroiditis; Postpartum thyroiditis; Thyroiditis - silent; Hyperthyroidism - silent thyroiditis

  • Causes
    • The cause of the disease is unknown. But it is related to an immune attack against the thyroid by the immune system. The disease affects women more often than men.

      The disease can occur in women who have just had a baby. It can also be caused by medicines such as interferon and amiodarone, which affect the immune system.

  • Symptoms
  • Exams and Tests
    • The health care provider will examine you and ask about your symptoms and medical history.

      A physical examination may show:

      • Enlarged thyroid gland that is not painful to the touch
      • Rapid heart rate
      • Shaking hands (tremor)

      Tests that may be done include:

  • Treatment
    • Treatment is based on symptoms. Medicines called beta-blockers may be used to relieve rapid heart rate and excessive sweating.

  • Outlook (Prognosis)
    • Silent thyroiditis often goes away on its own within 1 year. The acute phase ends within 3 months.

      Some people develop hypothyroidism over time. They need to be treated for a while with levothyroxine, a medicine that replaces thyroid hormone. Regular follow-ups with a provider are recommended.

  • When to Contact a Medical Professional
    • Call your provider if you have symptoms of this condition.

  • 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.

      Pellitteri PK, Ing S, Jameson B. Disorders of the thyroid gland. In: Flint PW, Haughey BH, Lund V, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 122.