Here's all you need to know about postpartum thyroiditis

Here's all you need to know about postpartum thyroiditis

Postpartum thyroiditis is a condition that occurs after a woman has given birth. Here is everything you should know about this and how to prevent it.

Postpartum thyroiditis is a rare condition that affects a small percentage of women after childbirth - about 3 in 100 to 2 in 25. Normally, some women may experience tiredness, mood swings, and some other symptoms weeks or months after delivery. But for some other women, these symptoms may be pointing to a more serious condition known as postpartum thyroiditis.

What is postpartum thyroiditis?

postpartum-thyroiditis

In the front of your neck, there's a small thyroid gland there, whose job is to make thyroid hormones. The butterfly-shaped gland is located at the lowest part of your neck, just below your Adam's apple, that ball-like thing that moves when you swallow. Now that gland is very important to almost every organ in your entire body. This is because that gland produces the hormones that travel through your bloodstream, controlling the way your body uses energy. So, postpartum thyroiditis occurs when there is a problem with the gland.

As a result, when the gland is affected it misbehaves in two different ways, causing you to start feeling unwell. At first, postpartum thyroiditis may cause that gland to become overactive. In that state, it starts producing and sending way too much of its hormones through your bloodstream. This makes some of your body parts work at a faster rate. However, at some point instead of returning to normal, the gland goes back to producing insufficient hormones, which slows your body down. These two changes are known as the overactive phase and the underactive phase, which are both triggered by a swelling in the thyroid gland.

Usually, postpartum thyroiditis can last up to several weeks or even months. But what makes it tricky is that the symptoms can easily be mistaken for something a woman would normally feel after delivering a baby.

What are the causes of this condition?

what are the causes of this condition?

The causes of this condition are unclear at the moment. However, there's a belief that the women who develop this condition after delivery are those with a high concentration of antibodies that work against the thyroid during pregnancy. As a result, the condition shows itself weeks or months after a woman has delivered.

Symptoms of postpartum thyroiditis

As stated before, this condition happens in two ways, as do the symptoms. Each version comes with different symptoms after delivery. The following are symptoms of postpartum thyroiditis.

Overactive

  • Feeling warm
  • Muscle weakness
  • Nervousness
  • Anxiety
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Loss of focus
  • Weight loss
  • Sweating

Underactive

  • Tiredness and lack of energy
  • Constipation
  • Memory loss
  • Can’t handle cold weather
  • Muscle cramps
  • Weakness
  • Weight gain
  • Dry skin

Risk factors

thyroid hormones

Risk factors help you understand who has a higher chance of having postpartum thyroiditis after delivery. You're likely to get postpartum thyroiditis if you fall into any of the following categories.

  • A family history of thyroid issues
  • Antithyroid antibodies before pregnancy
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • A history of thyroid problems

Postpartum thyroiditis treatment

Women with this condition usually do not need treatment for either the overactive or underactive phase. Treatment is only needed when the symptoms the woman is experiencing aren't mild but serious. This means that for you to go to the hospital seeking a doctor, your symptoms have to be serious. For women with serious symptoms of the overactive phase of the condition, they are given medications that will slow their heart rate down and lessen symptoms. While women with serious symptoms of underactive phase are treated with thyroid hormone replacement. Although, it is important for the doctor to continue monitoring the thyroid.

Prevention

Though you may not be able to directly prevent postpartum thyroiditis, you can ensure to take care of your body after giving birth. If you're getting symptoms you don't understand, don't wave it away by assuming it is because you are a new mum. Postpartum thyroiditis has a way of making you feel that way about your symptoms. Also, if you're a woman with a higher risk factor, you should have your doctor monitor your symptoms.

Your doctor will most likely check your thyroid gland to make sure it is functioning properly. He may recommend blood tests that will help check the level of the hormone your thyroid is releasing.

Read also: Postpartum Acne And How To Get Rid Of It

Mayo Clinic, Cleveland

Written by

Lydia Ume