Monday, December 20, 2010

Postpartum Thyroiditis

Postpartum thyroiditis is a painless inflammation of the thyroid gland that can occur in the mother usually four to 12 months after childbirth. The cause of this uncommon condition isn’t known. You may be at increased risk of postpartum thyroiditis if you have an immune system disorder or a prior history of thyroiditis.
If you have postpartum thyroiditis, you may initially experience signs and symptoms of overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism), which may include rapid heartbeat, sudden and unexplained weight loss, nervousness, fatigue and increased sensitivity to heat. A diagnosis of hyperthyroidism can be confirmed by blood tests. Treatment may include beta blockers to reduce symptoms.
Later, you may develop signs and symptoms of underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), which may include unexplained weight gain, hoarse voice, constipation, puffy face, fatigue and increased sensitivity to cold. A diagnosis of hypothyroidism can be confirmed with blood tests. Treatment may include thyroid replacement hormone.
In most cases, thyroid function returns to normal within 12 to 18 months after onset of symptoms. However, some women develop long-term hypothyroidism and need lifelong thyroid hormone replacement therapy.
Rarely, hypothyroidism after childbirth is caused by Sheehan’s syndrome, also called postpartum hypopituitarism. This condition may occur in women who have severe blood loss during childbirth resulting in damage to the anterior pituitary gland.

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