Link Between COVID-19 and Thyroiditis

Link Between COVID-19 and Thyroiditis

by Dr Amitabha Saha

Posted on 15th July, 2023 at 7:44:42 AM

COVID-19’s fourth wave is on the rise again. As people brace for the proliferation of cases, here is something you should be aware of—the link between COVID-19 and thyroiditis.

Recently, researchers at the University of Milan, Italy, (research head Dr. Ilaria Muller) found a link between COVID-19 and thyroid dysfunction. These scientists found that people who had moderate to severe cases of COVID showed evidence of thyroid dysfunction. The best thyroid specialist in Kolkata, Dr. Amitabha Saha takes an in-depth look at the study and offers some insights on the same.

COVID-19 and the Thyroid: Aim of the study

The aim of the study was to understand:

If COVID-19 affected thyroid function and

If it triggered inflammation of the thyroid, causing thyroiditis

Firstly, COVID-19 modifies thyroid function causing:

Cytokine storm

Alterations of the hypothalamus-pituitary-thyroid axis.

Inflammation of the thyroid which is known as thyroiditis

How was the study conducted?

Dr. Muller and her team studied around 100 patients who had been admitted to hospitals for severe COVID-19. They analysed several factors including TSH and found that the patients had thyroiditis. However, after recovery from COVID-19, the symptoms reduced and returned to normal levels. When these patients were reviewed after 12 months, thyroiditis was visible in half the patient population. Four out of six patients had decreased uptake of radiotracers such as technetium or iodine which is an indication of thyroiditis.

The effect of COVID-19 on thyroid

Dr. Muller observed that even if the effects on the thyroid gland persisted for months after infection, the gland’s functionality was restored. Thus they believed that the long-term effect on thyroid function was unlikely.

Dr. Bianco from the University of Chicago, however, noted that the function of the thyroid gland returned to normal after 12 months and only a few people showed functional abnormalities of the thyroid.

However, he noted that in 5-10 years such patients were more likely to develop hypothyroidism. The next step of the research, according to Dr. Bianco was to look at a large-scale follow-up to see if any of the patients had become hypothyroid.

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