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Postpartum Thyroiditis: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

5 min read

Giving birth to a child is such a mesmerizing feeling and considered a second life for every woman. Besides this happiness, there are worlds of hormonal changes that every woman witnesses during and even after the pregnancy. One such common problem is the Postpartum Thyroiditis. This results because of the inflammation in the thyroid gland. Continue reading to know more about this issue.

What Is Postpartum Thyroiditis?

Postpartum Thyroiditis is an issue that affects some mothers during the first year after delivery. This happens due to the inflammation of the thyroid gland. It is relatively a rare issue. Only 5% of mothers are reported to contract this in the year following the delivery.

Types Of Postpartum Thyroiditis

There are mainly three types of postpartum thyroiditis:

  1. Classic: In the classic type of postpartum thyroiditis, mothers contract hyperthyroidism followed by temporary hypothyroidism. The end of the first-year mother will regain normal thyroid function
  2. Isolated Thyrotoxicosis: In isolated thyrotoxicosis, there will be a period of hyperthyroidism. There will not be an episode of hypothyroidism. The hyperthyroidism, in due course, will resolve itself. This type of PPT is found to begin in-between two to six months after the delivery. Twenty-five percent of women experience this type of PPT.
  3. Isolated Hypothyroidism: Remaining 50% of women with PPT develop an underactive thyroid between three to 12 months after delivery. Although most of the women will get out of this in due course, 10 to 20% of women have an increased chance to develop permanent hypothyroidism.

What Are The Causes Of Postpartum Thyroiditis?

The causes why only a few women witness this condition is not known for the scientists. There is a proper investigation going on why the antithyroid antibodies are produced in the women after pregnancy and why they are attacking her thyroid gland.
However, the medical experts believe that postpartum Thyroiditis starts during the pregnancy itself and just stays silent as an autoimmune disease. However, after childbirth, due to the fluctuations in the function of the immune system, the thyroid gland will get attacked by the immune system triggering PPT.

 Who Are At The Risk Of Developing Postpartum Thyroiditis?

As the accurate triggering conditions are not aware of exactly by the medical experts, they are not able to tell exactly who is prone to this. Women after one year of pregnancy are at the risk of getting this.

  • If there is any family history of the thyroid problems, then there are chances that you might even get the same.
  • Mothers with Type one diabetes
  • Mothers experiencing postpartum depression
  • There are few people who have an increased number of anti-thyroid antibodies, and even they have the risk of getting this problem after pregnancy.
  • While those who have the autoimmune disorders are also prone to this postpartum Thyroiditis

 Occurrence Rate Of Postpartum Thyroiditis

The accurate rate of PPT is not known; it is not that every one after the pregnancy will be prone to this gets this Postpartum Thyroiditis. Only around 5 to 10% of women contract this issue. The rate is quite high in women who come under the high-risk category.

What Are The Symptoms Of Postpartum Thyroiditis?

The symptoms appear in two different phases. Initially, it starts with the symptoms of hyperthyroidism because of the inflammation of the thyroid hormone.
In this case, a woman may suffer from

  • Tremor
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Increase in the heartbeat
  • Getting irritated to everything.
  • You are experiencing severe fatigue.

Once the thyroid cells start becoming impaired, the symptoms of hypothyroidism start.
In this case, a woman may suffer from:

  • Reduced energy levels
  • Problems with constipation
  • Getting very sensitive to cold
  • Several aches and pains.

How to Prepare for the Appointment?

Go to the gynecologist or the general physician while you are experiencing any of the above symptoms. It is always advised to go immediately instead of making the condition worse as it never gets better unless you take the right dosage of medication.

Diagnosis of Postpartum Thyroiditis

As the problem of this Postpartum Thyroiditis starts with the inflammation in the thyroid hormone, the doctor prescribes for the tests that are related to it. They need to find the thyroid hormone levels of TSH, T3, and T4. Based on these hormone levels, they will decide the type of medication you might need.
In some cases, an ultrasound is performed to evaluate the enlargement of the thyroid gland.
Doctors also run some tests for diagnosis of Graves’ disease, which can also trigger hyperthyroidism after delivery. There is a radioiodine uptake test that is done to distinguish postpartum thyroiditis from Graves’ disease.  The doctor may go for it in some cases.

Treatment of Postpartum Thyroiditis 

  • When there are very mild symptoms or just the hormonal imbalance has started, there is no necessity for any sort of treatment or therapy.
  • On the other hand, women who are suffering from hyperthyroidism will be given with the beta-blockers. These are useful to reduce the tremors and control other symptoms like increased heart rate or palpitations.
  • Doctors suggest thyroid replacement therapy for those who are troubled with hypothyroidism. The course will be extended for 6-12 months.
  • Depending on the reaction of the patient and her symptoms, these courses will be changed or stopped when the individual is completely fine.

 Management:

If you are facing any sort of depression, then you can get rid of that by just going to the doctor.  He will check for the functionality of the thyroid hormone coz as already stated, postpartum depression and mood swings can be a warning sign for thyroid issues.
Most of the women will start feeling better after completing the course for a short duration of a year. However, there are even others who just can’t come out with this stage of hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. In these cases, their thyroid gland doesn’t produce the right hormones that are required by the body. So, they must keep on using the thyroid medication for the rest of their life or until these complications are completely reduced.

Breast-Feeding Considerations

Treating hypothyroidism due to PPT will not do any harm to your baby. You can take the recommended amount of thyroid hormone replacements. However, for treating hyperthyroidism due to PPT, thyroid suppressing therapies are rarely used. Breastfeeding safe medication is used to control the symptoms.

Tips To Prevent Postpartum Thyroiditis:

The medical experts suggest that you just can’t prevent the postpartum thyroiditis. Rather you can reduce the impact and stay safe. Don’t just think that you are getting the problems or inconvenience because of the stress or irregular naps while taking care of the kid. Rather consult the doctor when you are not comfortable. As they suggest you with the right treatment.
The chances of getting the Postpartum Thyroiditis are very less for most of the women after the pregnancy. After one year of giving birth, there are chances for these conditions to trigger. It initially starts with depression or a lack of concentration. Keep in mind the common symptoms, and this helps you to get the right treatment at the right time without aggravating the effects. The treatment and the entire management of this medical condition vary based on the symptoms which the individual is facing.
There is every right for women to live a better life. Get the appropriate expert advice and enhance your energy levels without any sort of discomfort. Now there is advanced medicine for all the conditions, and you can use them to lead a healthy and joyful life.

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