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De Quervain’s Thyroiditis

What is De Quervain’s Thyroiditis?

De Quervain’s thyroiditis, also referred to as subacute granulomatous thyroiditis, giant cell thyroiditis or painful subacute thyroiditis, can affect people of all ages and genders but is most common in females aged between 20 and 50.  It is part of the resolving thyroiditis family and is named after Fritz De Quervain but should not be confused with De Quervain’s syndrome which he also identified.

De Quervain’s thyroiditis usually causes the thyroid gland to swell rapidly resulting in pain and discomfort.  Subsequently, the thyroid gland releases the thyroid hormone into the blood resulting in patients becoming hyperthyroid.

What causes De Quervain’s Thyroiditis?

De Quervain’s thyroiditis is often brought on by a viral infection such as mumps, an upper respiratory tract infection, adenovirus or influenza.  Some cases may develop following pregnancy and childbirth.

The symptoms may resolve themselves after a short period of time but can occasionally lead to an underactive thyroid, which may continue to be unsettled for many months before the gland returns to normal.  In more severe cases patients can suffer from infectious thyroiditis or permanent hypothyroidism requiring thyroid hormone replacement.

What are the symptoms of De Quervain’s Thyroiditis?

Symptoms vary depending on the patient and the severity of the condition but can include:

  • fever
  • pain in the neck, jaw and/or ear
  • inflammation of the thyroid
  • hyperthyroidism
  • anxiety
  • insomnia
  • palpitations
  • shakes


It is essential to seek a professional diagnosis from your doctor or consultant. This may include a visual examination, blood test, ultrasound and/or fine-needle aspiration.


Treatment for De Quervain’s thyroiditis can vary dramatically depending on the individual patient’s needs.  Some sufferers may simply require over the counter pain medication to manage a short-term attack. Salicylates and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications may also be used to treat mild to moderate cases.  For more severe cases liothyronine (T3) or levothyroxine (T4) treatment might be considered and if extreme measures are required to benefit the patient’s health and wellbeing then a thyroidectomy may need to be performed.


Prognosis of this condition varies massively between patients.  De Quervain’s thyroiditis can be a reoccurring or permanent illness requiring long-term medication, but it is usually a short-term treatable complaint.

For more support check out our online community:


  1. Thyroiditis
  2. The management of subacute (De Quervain’s) thyroiditis


Date updated: 08.03.22 (V1.4)
Review date: 08.06.22


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