What to Do When Silent Thyroiditis Phases Into Hypothyroidism

March 2, 2005

Silent Thyroiditis, Standard Treatment, Hypothyroidism

What is the standard treatment for hypothyroidism that develops followingsilent thyroiditis?-- Nancy R. Wilson, FNP
Silent thyroiditis, or more precisely, silent subacute thyroiditis, generallyhas a hyperthyroid phase, which usually lasts several weeks,followed by a hypothyroid phase, which also lasts several weeks.The hyperthyroid phase is often mild and self-limited, and as such,treatment is usually not required. Should treatment be needed, a β-blocker is usually sufficient. Note that standard antithyroid drug treatmentwith propylthiouracil or methimazole is not effective, because the mechanismof the hyperthyroidism is not excessive thyroid hormone productionbut release of stored thyroid hormone.The hypothyroid phase of silent subacute thyroiditis is often mild as well,and no treatment is generally required if symptoms are not severe. Whensymptoms are more prominent, a short course of L-thyroxine therapy is inorder. Keep in mind that because the hypothyroidism is usually transient,this treatment should be stopped after several weeks. Very rarely, the hypothyroidismmay persist.-- Jay Silverberg, MD
   Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism
   Sunnybrook & Women's College Health Science Center
   University of Toronto