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Why are Some People Getting Thyroiditis After Covid-19?

By Dr. Nikita Toshi +2 more

Introduction

Already India has reached a 70% rate across the population for at least 1 vaccination shot, with nearly 60% having received both shots early in 2022. Now a new issue seems to be rearing its head, some doctors report that patients are complaining of post-covid symptoms associated with thyroiditis


Of course, we’ve heard plenty about other possible post-covid complications over these past couple of years, from long-Covid to loss of smell and taste, to possible loss of sleep. Not everyone needs to fear these issues, but it is helpful to understand what potential complications you need to watch for. And Thyroiditis may be the latest one. And just to be safe, you should book your thyroid test today

Did you know?

What is Thyroiditis?

The thyroid is a small but very important gland located in your neck region (just above the breastbone) responsible for producing and releasing very important hormones into your body. These thyroid hormones control and regulate your body’s metabolism and also influence the functioning of other vital organs. Metabolism is the rate at which your cells and organs do their jobs and run the processes to produce energy. 

Thyroiditis is a condition in which the thyroid gland becomes inflamed. This can cause increased or decreased levels of thyroid hormones, which results in a range of thyroid symptoms. Here’s how thyroiditis typically presents:

  • In the first phase, the inflammation in the thyroid gland causes extra thyroid hormones to be produced and released. This results in thyroid symptoms (mainly, hyperthyroidism).
  • After this phase, the thyroid gland has very low levels of hormones remaining. The next phase is categorised by hypothyroid symptoms that can last for weeks to months. The low levels of thyroid hormone can be followed by the next step. 
  • The third phase is called Euthyroid, in this stage, the thyroid gland recovers production and hormone levels begin to stabilise. This can occur either at the end or just after phase 1. 

These are just a few of the thyroid problems you may experience, individual symptoms may differ slightly. Why does the thyroid get inflamed? There are several causes, here is a quick list to help you understand: 

Patients with moderate to critical COVID-19 with no history of thyroid disease, reported altered thyroid function in more than 60% of patients during the food outbreak in the outpatient departments. Low TSH with or without lower-than-normal levels of T3 were the most frequent alterations found in these patients, monitoring is very helpful in such patients.

Dr. Ashish Bajaj – M.B.B.S, M.D.
  • Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (an autoimmune thyroid disorder)
  • Asymptomatic thyroiditis (also an autoimmune thyroid disorder)
  • Post-childbirth hormone imbalance (another autoimmune thyroid disorder)
  • Radiation treatment for cancer and hyperthyroidism can cause inflammation 
  • Acute thyroiditis is rare, typically caused by infections and bacteria 
  • Some medications can cause thyroid gland inflammation in a few patients 
  • Subacute thyroiditis is another condition, often caused by viral infections (such as Covid-19)

The last cause of thyroiditis is the one we’re interested in. It has been reported that multiple patients are coming back to their doctor’s after Covid-19 recovery with complaints of symptoms leading to more and more thyroiditis cases. 

COVID-19 has been linked to many post infection complications including subacute thyroiditis (SAT) due to production anti thyroid peroxidase antibodies by immune system which attacks the thyroid gland. Subacute thyroiditis (SAT), also known as de Quatrain thyroiditis, is a self-limiting thyroid disorder.

Dr. M.G. Kartheeka, MBBS, MD

What Should You Look Out for?

Experts agree that thyroiditis is not unique to Covid-19, it has been seen that many people with low or poor immunity tend to have a higher risk of developing thyroiditis after a viral infection. Recovery from subacute thyroiditis happens within 4-12 months based on each case. Not everyone will experience this complication, it can affect people across demographics, although middle-aged people seem to have a higher risk currently. 

Another thing to note is that people without any previous history of thyroid problems can still experience thyroiditis (whether post-covid or not). If you’re wondering whether you could have thyroiditis, look out for these classic symptoms that may be due to a thyroid disorder- 

  • Persistent throat ache and pain (painkillers don’t bring relief), difficulty swallowing 
  • Swelling around the thyroid gland (neck area) that appears to move up and down as you swallow
  • Neck pain and tenderness 
  • Shivering, heart palpitations 
  • Diarrhoea or Constipation
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Hair fall
  • Hyperthyroidism symptoms (fatigue, irritability, increased heart rate, anxiety, trembling, increased appetite, sweating)
  • Hypothyroidism symptoms (sudden weight gain, fatigue, constipation, feeling depressed, loss of focus, dehydrated and having dry skin or hairfall)

If you have been experiencing any of these symptoms, your doctor might want you to get tested. Book your thyroid test today.

Conclusion

Typically, the above thyroid problems will show up between 3-60 days after Covid-19. One major complication of untreated, undiagnosed thyroiditis is the possibility of a thyroid storm. A thyroid storm may be life-threatening. If you have recovered from Covid-19 and are noticing any of the above symptoms, be sure to get yourself tested. Fortunately, there is an easy way your doctor can diagnose your situation, by measuring the number of thyroid hormones (T3 and T4) and TSH in your blood. Book a thyroid profile test today to find out whether you may have thyroiditis or not. This test checks for the levels T3 and T4 hormones as well as the levels of thyroid-stimulating hormones (TSH). Once you get your results, your doctor will be able to diagnose the problem and prescribe you the necessary treatment which usually shows positive results very soon. The right specialist to consult for a thyroid disorder would be an endocrinologist, if not available near you consult a general physician but do not ignore this condition. 

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational/awareness purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional and should not be relied upon to diagnose or treat any medical condition. The reader should consult a registered medical practitioner to determine the appropriateness of the information and before consuming any medication. PharmEasy does not provide any guarantee or warranty (express or implied) regarding the accuracy, adequacy, completeness, legality, reliability or usefulness of the information; and disclaims any liability arising thereof.

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