What is postpartum thyroiditis?
In addition to playing an important role in the development of a growing fetus, proper thyroid hormone levels also help to minimize the chance of any thyroid complications after delivery. One particular postpartum complication is postpartum thyroiditis, a condition characterized by an inflamed thyroid gland. Postpartum thyroiditis is not a typical infection, however, the gland does become inflamed due to a response to an injury of the gland, of which the cause is unknown. Postpartum thyroiditis is a postpartum condition that results in temporary hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) or hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid). Postpartum thyroiditis is fairly common. In fact, 5 percent to 10 percent of women develop the disease after giving birth, according to the American Thyroid Association.
What are the symptoms of postpartum thyroiditis?
When the thyroid becomes inflamed, it will first emit large quantities of thyroid hormone into the bloodstream (hyperthyroidism). During this phase, most women are unaware of any symptoms, which are often mild and short-lived. However, once this initial phase passes, a woman either recovers completely or has sustained damage to her thyroid. If the thyroid gland was damaged, this damage – together with a depleted reservoir of thyroid hormones – can lead to hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid). This condition, too, may also clear up or result in further damage and complications.
The following are the most common symptoms associated with the hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism that accompany postpartum thyroiditis. However, each individual may
experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
experiencing muscle weakness
loss of memory
can not tolerate cold weather
cramps in the muscles
loss of concentration
Treatment for postpartum thyroiditis:
Specific treatment for postpartum thyroiditis will be determined by your physician based on:
· your age, overall health, and medical history
· extent of the disease
· your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
· expectations for the course of the disease
· your opinion or preference
If the postpartum thyroiditis is in the hyperthyroidism, or initial, phase, treatment is usually not necessary. However, if the condition progresses and symptoms of hypothyroidism become evident, thyroid hormone replacement therapy may be considered.