Kids Health Info


  • Thyroiditis is inflammation (swelling) of the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland produces a hormone called thyroxine. Thyroxine helps regulate many functions of the body. Due to the inflammation, people with thyroiditis do not make enough thyroxine.

    Thyroiditis usually affects young or middle-aged people, and is more common in females than males.

    If properly monitored and treated, thyroiditis is not a serious disease.


    Thyroiditis can be caused by many things.

    The most common cause is a chronic inflammation of the thyroid gland. This is caused by blood antibodies and white blood cells attacking and damaging the thyroid. The result of this so-called "autoimmune" problem is decreased function of the thyroid gland and not enough production of thyroxine.

    Thyroiditis is confirmed by finding high levels of antibodies in the blood.

    Signs and symptoms

    • Sore throat
    • Fever - high temperature.
    • The thyroid gland, at the front of the throat, may become large and painful, called a goitre.


    Treatment is recommended for some patients with thyroiditis. Your doctor will discuss treatment options for your child.

    Thyroid hormone replacement - Thyroxine

    Thyroxine is a thyroid hormone replacement (thyroxine). As soon as a person is diagnosed with a thyroiditis, they are given thyroxine,even if thyroid function is normal at that time.

    Thyroid hormone is given for three reasons:

    • It shrinks the goitre usually over a period of 6 to 18 months in most patients.
    • It makes sure the patient always has adequate levels of thyroxine in the blood to regulate body functions.
    • It seems to have an effect on the white blood cells which cause the damage and destruction in the thyroid gland.

    Thyroxine treatment for thyroiditis is usually needed for the rest of a person's life.


    Sometimes surgery is needed and some, or all, of the thyroid gland is removed under general anaesthetic. The risks associated with this procedure are:

    • The possibility of damaging the parathyroid glands (which lie next to the thyroid gland) and the nerve supplying the vocal cords.
    • The normal surgical risks associated with having an operation and anaesthetic.

    Follow up

    Patients on thyroid hormone replacement should be seen by their doctor at least once a year to check:

    • That the dose of thyroxine is correct.
    • That the goitre has decreased in size.

    Key points to remember about thyroiditis

    • If properly monitored and treated, thyroiditis is not a serious disease.
    • Thyroxine treatment for thyroiditis is usually needed for life.

    Other sources of information

    The content for this fact sheet has been contributed to by the following RCH departments: General Medicine. First published August 2003. Updated November 2010.

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This information is intended to support, not replace, discussion with your doctor or healthcare professionals. The authors of these consumer health information handouts have made a considerable effort to ensure the information is accurate, up to date and easy to understand. The Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne accepts no responsibility for any inaccuracies, information perceived as misleading, or the success of any treatment regimen detailed in these handouts. Information contained in the handouts is updated regularly and therefore you should always check you are referring to the most recent version of the handout. The onus is on you, the user, to ensure that you have downloaded the most up-to-date version of a consumer health information handout.