Severe COVID-19: Evidence of thyroid dysfunction found 1 year after infection

The thyroid gland regulates metabolism, heart rate, digestive tract function, and the temperature of the human body.

Researchers from the University of Milan have found a link between endocrine dysfunction and COVID-19 infection. Thyroid dysfunction is reflected in reduced or increased hormone production, inflammation of the thyroid tissue (thyroiditis) or the development of autoimmune disease - Hashimoto's thyroiditis, which is also reflected in reduced production of hormones of this endocrine gland.

The study was performed on a group of 100 patients who were admitted to hospital due to COVID-19 infection. Half of them had a verified inflammatory process of the thyroid gland a year after the infection. Lead researcher, Dr. Ilaria Muller, stressed that thyroid damage during COVID-19 virus infection can occur in two ways:
- due to damage to the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid regulatory axis due to cytokine storm and/or
- due to inflammation directly caused by COVID-19 infection.

Researchers from Dr. Muller's team also recommended that patients with moderate to severe COVID-19 infection, due to the potential risk of thyroiditis, require follow-up by a doctor for at least a year after the infection. In order to assess the functionality of the thyroid gland in this period, Dr. Muller concluded that it is necessary to monitor the values of thyroid hormones - TSH and fT3.

The results of this research were presented at the 24th European Congress of Endocrinology in Milan, Italy in May 2022.