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Postpartum thyroiditis: How long does it last?By Mayo Clinic staff
Original Article: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/postpartum-thyroiditis/AN00153
- With Mayo Clinic endocrinologist
Todd B. Nippoldt, M.D.read biographyclose window
Todd B. Nippoldt, M.D.Todd Nippoldt, M.D.
Dr. Todd Nippoldt is a board-certified specialist in internal medicine and endocrinology and metabolism. He has special expertise in the area of hormone disorders affecting the pituitary and adrenal glands as well as the testes and ovaries. He has been a member of the Mayo Clinic staff since 1988.
He's a consultant in the Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Nutrition and works with patients who have disorders of the hormone-producing glands. Common disorders include diabetes, thyroid problems, osteoporosis and elevated cholesterol levels.
He's also involved in andrology, the study of male hormonal disorders, male infertility and male sexual dysfunction, and is an assistant professor of medicine at College of Medicine, Mayo Clinic.
Dr. Nippoldt, a St. Paul, Minn., native, has also contributed to "Mayo Clinic Health Letter," the "Mayo Clinic Family Health Book" and a Mayo Clinic CD-ROM. He's a fellow in the American College of Physicians and a member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the American Society of Andrology, The Endocrine Society, The Pituitary Society and the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists.
"I have found that those patients who have gone to the Internet and obtained accurate medical information come to their appointment with me very well informed, and the discussions regarding the evaluation and management of their condition are very productive and satisfying," he says.
"The key, however, is obtaining accurate medical information. As a medical editor, I hope to be able to ensure that accurate, relevant and up-to-date information is available for patients and their families."
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Postpartum thyroiditis: How long does it last?
How long does postpartum thyroiditis usually last?
from Todd B. Nippoldt, M.D.
Postpartum thyroiditis — a painless inflammation of the thyroid gland that develops within the first year after childbirth — often lasts from several weeks to several months. For some women, postpartum thyroiditis leads to long-term underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism).
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, type 1 diabetes or a history of thyroiditis.
At first, the release of thyroid hormone and the related inflammation may cause signs and symptoms similar to those of an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism), including:
- Rapid heartbeat or palpitations
- Unexplained weight loss
- Increased sensitivity to heat
A diagnosis of hyperthyroidism can be confirmed with blood tests. Treatment generally isn't needed for mild signs and symptoms. If necessary, beta blockers may help reduce signs and symptoms — although beta blockers aren't recommended for women who are breast-feeding.
Later, as thyroid cells become impaired by the inflammation, signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism may develop, including:
- Unexplained weight gain
- Increased sensitivity to cold
As with hyperthyroidism, a diagnosis of hypothyroidism can be confirmed with blood tests. Treatment generally isn't needed for mild signs and symptoms. If signs and symptoms are severe, thyroid hormone replacement therapy may be prescribed.
For the majority of women, thyroid function eventually returns to normal. However, some women who develop postpartum thyroiditis develop hypothyroidism and require lifelong thyroid hormone replacement therapy. Because hypothyroidism presents a significant risk to developing babies, it's important to make sure the condition is under control before attempting another pregnancy.Next question
Lactation suppression: Can medication help?
- Burman KD. Postpartum thyroiditis. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Jan. 4, 2011.
- Thyroid and other endocrine disorders. In: Cunningham FG, et al. Williams Obstetrics. 23rd ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2010. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=6046490&searchStr=postpartum+thyroiditis#6046490. Accessed Jan. 4, 2011.
- Todd CH. Management of thyroid disorders in primary care: Challenges and controversies. Postgraduate Medical Journal. 2009;85:655.
- Harms RW (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Jan. 4, 2011.