Thyroid gland inflammation

Jul 10, 2012 , Jakub Šulta

zanet-stitne-zlazy.jpg - kopie
zanet-stitne-zlazy.jpg - kopie
Thyroid gland inflammations are a fairly common disease with various causes and symptoms. Generally, they are divided into three groups base on the disease's progression. With a timely and correct therapy, the prognosis is very good, still, complications may occur, for example a decreased function of the gland, hypothyroidism.

Thyroid gland inflammation

Thyroid gland inflammations or thyroiditides are fairly common diseases, which we divide into several group, acute, subacute and chronic. Inflammations differ by their origin, symptoms, treatment and prognosis. A thyroid gland is an organ found on the front of the neck, whose main purpose is the production of hormones triiodothyronine (T3), thyroxine (T4) and calcitonine. The first two hormones influence a series of processes in the human body, such as protein production, fat burning or oxygen usage. Calcitonine, on the other hand, is responsible for managing calcium, to be precise it moves it from blood to bones. The production of hormones is dependent on the amount of iodine in blood, which is captured by the thyroid gland and subsequently built into the forming hormones.

Inflammation

An inflammation is the organism's defensive reaction to damage, which most commonly occurs due to a bacterial or viral infection. Reddening, swelling, pain and damaged function of the affected organ all occur during an inflammation. At first, blood supply increases in the damaged area, which is visible as a reddening, which is very important, since blood contains elements of the immune system. After that, swelling occurs, due to fluids passing from blood to the area. Cells of the immune system cross through the walls of the blood vessels together with blood, to directly fight the infection, for example.

Acute thyroid gland inflammation

Acute thyroid gland inflammation is an infective purulent disease, which is fairly rare and its appearance is usually sporadic. Its main cause are usually bacteria, rarely fungal or parasitic inflammations are described. The most common way of infection is not through droplets, such as in flu or sore throat, but through blood, which carried the bacteria to the gland.

Symptoms and diagnosis

The most common symptom of thyroid gland inflammation is usually a painful swelling in the thyroid area, with the skin possibly being red and warmer. If the effects are more widespread, overall symptoms of inflammation are generally present, especially an increased temperature. The diagnosis is set by a patient based on the symptoms and a laboratory exam to determine the size of the ongoing inflammation. Furthermore, an ultrasound exam is done, to help determine the size of the swollen gland and a biopsy which will reveal the cause of the inflammation.

Treatment and prognosis

An acute thyroid gland inflammation is treated by antibiotics, which work against bacterial and mycotic inflections. The best treatment is an aimed one, based on a biopsy which reveals the direct cause of the disease. Should the antibiotic treatment fail, a surgical removal of the affected part is performed. Prognosis is usually positive, though it depends in the size of the inflammation and the correctness of the treatment.

Subacute thyroid gland inflammation

Subacute (more gradual) thyroid gland inflammation is probably caused by viruses, occurs relatively often and mainly affects women. Subacute thyroid gland inflammation often follows directly, or after a short time period after a viral disease of the respiratory system, but it can appear on its own as well.

Symptoms and diagnosis

The main symptom of a subacute thyroid inflammation is a painful swelling on the neck, with the pain possibly radiating to the chin or ear. Tiredness and increased temperature , which, however, tends to be lower than in an acute inflammation, are present as well. The diagnosis is based on the symptoms and potentially on a laboratory blood exam. Ultrasound or biopsy is also used, if the diagnosis is not clear.

Treatment and prognosis

Antiinflammatory drugs are used to treat a subacute thyroid inflammation, non-steroid medication is the first choice, but if the issues do not stop, a corticoid treatment is used. Corticoids are used on a number of inflammatory diseases, rheumatic, systemic, skin, lung etc., whenever it is appropriate to inhibit the immune systems function. A subacute inflammation is cured in most cases, however in 10% of patients develop a permanently decreased thyroid gland function, hypothyroidism.

Chronic thyroid inflammation

Chronic (long lasting) thyroid gland inflammation is caused by an autoimmune disease, during which the cells of one's immune system turn against its own organism. The thyroid gland tissue is then gradually destroyed and produces a smaller amount of hormones. A chronic inflammation is the most common cause of decreased thyroid gland function, affecting more than 5% of population above the age of 60.

Symptoms and diagnosis

The main symptom of a chronic thyroid gland inflammation, which progresses with no symptoms for a long time, is hypothyroidism. The first finding is usually the decreased function of the thyroid gland, which is today discovered in its early stages thanks to its specific symptoms. An ultrasound is important to show specific changes in the gland. Base on these findings we can then diagnose a chronic thyroid inflammation.

Treatment and prognosis

The treatment of a chronic thyroid inflammation is based on supervising its function and supplying hormones, which the gland produces in a decreased amount. In the case of an early a correct treatment, the prognosis is usually positive.

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