Postpartum thyroiditis happens when
a woman’s thyroid gland becomes inflamed after having a baby. This condition affects a
small percentage of pregnant women, or about 3 in 100 to 2 in 25.
The thyroid is a tiny gland in the front of your neck. Its job is to make thyroid hormones. These hormones travel through your bloodstream to all parts of your body. Thyroid hormones control how your body uses energy. They affect almost every organ in your body. When your thyroid doesn’t make the right amount of hormones, you don’t feel well.
Postpartum thyroiditis may first
make your thyroid overactive (hyperthyroidism). This means it sends too many thyroid
hormones out into the bloodstream. This can make parts of your body work too fast. But
over time the condition leads to an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism). This means it
doesn’t make enough thyroid hormones. Then parts of your body slow down.
Experts don’t know what causes this
condition. But it is a lot like the autoimmune disease Hashimoto thyroiditis. It is hard
to tell the two conditions apart.
You may be more likely to get this condition if you have any of these:
When the thyroid becomes inflamed, it first sends a lot of thyroid hormone into your blood. That causes hyperthyroidism. During this time, you may not have any symptoms. Or any symptoms you do have may be mild and not last long.
After this first phase, you may fully recover. Or your thyroid may be damaged. A damaged thyroid can become underactive. This condition may also go away. Or you may have an underactive thyroid for the rest of your life. In this case you may need hormone replacement.
Each person’s symptoms may vary. Symptoms may include:
These symptoms may not appear until a few months after childbirth. They are often mistaken for normal signs of recovery from childbirth. Always see your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
Tests used to diagnose postpartum
thyroiditis depend on the phase of the disease. A blood test can often tell if you have
an overactive or underactive thyroid.
Treatment will depend on your symptoms, age, and general health. It
will also depend on how severe the condition is.
Treatment depends on the phase of
the disease and your symptoms:
You should have regular thyroid
tests. Your thyroid may be working normally within 12 to 18 months after the symptoms
start. If so, you may be able to stop treatment. Thyroid function will return to normal
in 4 in 5 women.
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider:
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