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COVID 19 and Thyroid Disease: Vaccine Effects

  • timeline Dr. Sreelekha Daruvuri
  • 2 Min Read
  • Fact Checked

COVID 19 is a respiratory infection, but the effects are not just limited to the lungs. Long COVID 19 syndrome is a sequelae that can trouble recovered patients for up to 12 months or longer. Many organs are effected due to COVID 19 including the thryoid gland. This butterfly shape glad is situated in the neck and is controlled by the brain. Thyroid problems are considered the second most common endocrinological disorders in the world. The gland can be under functioning or over functioning, resulting in different symptoms. This article will talk about COVID 19 and thyroid disease, how the virus and the COVID 19 vaccine affects the gland.

How does COVID 19 affect the thyroid gland?

Thyroid inflammation commonly called Subacute Thyroiditis is common after viral infections. COVID 19 being a viral disease also initiates inflammation. There are few COVID 19 antigens that cross-react with thyroid antigens and hence antibodies developed towards the virus trigger inflammation in the gland. This could lead to hyperfunctioning of the gland or an underfunctioning of the gland, Although there is no exact relationship between the cause and the effect. Most of them are self limiting. They need no medication or painkillers/steroids, just monitoring. There are few cases where this leads to permanent hypothyroidism.

Autoimmune disorders are known to be caused due to viral infections as the antibodies fail to recognize our antigens and attack them. Grave’s disease and Hashimotos’ thyroiditis are due to antibodies developed against the thyroid gland. There are few cases reported post a COVID 19 infection.

Symptoms caused due to Thyroiditis

Symptoms can be evident in less than 2-3 months and most commonly noted is the pain in the neck with/without swelling.
If the inflammation leads to a underfunctioning thyroid, the symptoms are:
– Weight gain
– Loss of appetite
– Laziness, tiredness and fatigue 

If there is over-functioning of the gland, the symptoms are most commonly
– Palpitations or irregular heart beats can be present especially after having tea or coffee along with sleeplessness

Covid-19 vaccine and Thyroid disorders

There are very few cases reported about Thyroid gland dysfunction post the COVID 19 vaccine (mRNA based or whole virus based). Few theories say the adjuvants are leading to dysfunction. But what exactly is triggering the inflammation is still a question. The reported cases are being monitored across the world by scientists. There is no need to withhold vaccination just because one has autoimmune thyroiditis. It is not proven that the vaccine will aggravate the condition.

Most of the time, this is self-limiting or if it occurs in a patient who is a known thyroid patient, it needs dose modulation. NSAIDS or in a few cases need steroid management is done to reduce the inflammation.  Most importantly the symptoms are to be watched for and thyroid profile testing is to be done in case of any symptoms/signs. A physician is to be consulted should one exhibit any symptoms for proper management.

You’d be surprised how lifestyle changes can positively affect hypothyroidism. MFine follows through with your care from consultations with top endocrinologists and weekly meal reviews to round-the-clock access to health coaches. The 3-Month Hypothyroidism Care Plan offers quality care at your fingertips.

  • timeline
  • Written by

    Dr. Sreelekha Daruvuri

Primary Care Physician

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