An introduction to postpartum thyroiditis
Postpartum thyroiditis is a thyroid disorder that some women develop within the first year after giving birth. While the condition typically lasts from several weeks to several months, some women develop long-term hypothyroidism after giving birth.
Women with type 1 diabetes, a history of thyroiditis, or an immune system disorder are at higher risk for the disorder.
The initial signs of hyperthyroidism—overproduction of thyroid hormone—may include anxiety, rapid heartbeat, anxiety, increased sensitivity to heat, and/or unexplained weight loss. Doctors typically confirm diagnosis of postpartum thyroiditis using blood tests. If symptoms are mild, treatment isn’t typically necessary.
In some cases, the condition reverses as the thyroid cells become damaged. In these cases, hypothyroidism—underproduction of thyroid hormone—may develop causing symptoms such as fatigue, unexplained weight gain, weakness and increased sensitivity to cold. Again, mild symptoms do not usually require treatment.
However, if symptoms become more severe and last longer than a year after giving birth, your doctor may recommend thyroid hormone replacement therapy in order to compensate for the lack of thyroid hormone production by your thyroid gland.
Additional symptoms to look out for if you are concerned that you have postpartum thyroiditis include:
- Hair loss
- Decreased milk production (in women who are breastfeeding)
- Depression or other mood problems
- Enlarged thyroid gland (goitre)
In general, when a woman is experiencing postpartum thyroiditis, she will usually experience milder forms of symptoms associated with hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, depending on what phase of the disorder she is in.
Unless the symptoms become uncomfortable, women with the disorder usually do not need to follow a treatment plan. If the symptoms are causing numerous problems, then a beta blocker may be prescribed. However, women who are breastfeeding are advised against taking beta blockers.
If symptoms become more severe or last longer than a year after giving birth, then a thyroid disorder treatment plan may need to be followed to help manage the disorder long term.
If you have any questions about thyroid symptoms contact your local doctor who will arrange for you to see a thyroid surgeon