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WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
- Postpartum (post-PAHR-tum) thyroiditis (thi-roi-DI-tis) is a condition where there is inflammation (swelling) of the thyroid gland in women after giving birth. The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped organ that makes hormones, and is located in the front part of your neck. Hormones are special chemicals that act as messengers to help control how your body works. Postpartum thyroiditis is an autoimmune disease (caused by the body itself) where the body attacks the thyroid gland until it swells. This condition usually occurs within a year after delivery of the baby. You may have weight loss or weight gain, and feel nervous, tired, depressed, anxious, irritable, or weak. You may feel your heart beating fast or slow, and feel cold or hot and sweat more than usual. You may have constipation (dry, hard bowel movements), dry skin, and brittle hair.
- A thyroid scan and blood tests to check the levels of the thyroid hormone are used to diagnose postpartum thyroiditis. Postpartum thyroiditis usually goes away on its own. You may need to visit your caregiver to be checked on over time. Treatment may be needed for those whose thyroid gland is severely (badly) damaged. Treatment may include antithyroid drugs, hormone replacements, and medicines to treat other problems. Radioactive iodine may also be used to decrease production of the thyroid hormone.
AFTER YOU LEAVE:
Take your medicine as directed.
Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Ask for information about where and when to go for follow-up visits:
For continuing care, treatments, or home services, ask for more information.
If you are taking antithyroid medicines you may need to have blood drawn at least every 3 to 6 months. This is to make sure you are getting the right amount of medicine. Your caregiver will tell you exactly how often you need your blood tested. Do not stop taking medicines without first talking to your caregiver.
Eating and drinking:
Eat a variety of healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meat and fish. Ask your caregiver if you need to be on a special diet. Women 19 years old and older should drink about 2.2 liters of liquid each day (close to 9 eight-ounce cups). Follow your caregiver's advice if you must change the amount of liquid you drink. For most people, good liquids to drink are water, juices, and milk. If you are used to drinking liquids that contain caffeine, such as coffee, these can also be counted in your daily liquid amount. Try to drink enough liquid each day and not just when you feel thirsty.
Talk to your caregiver before you start exercising. Together you can plan the best exercise program for you. It is best to start slowly and do more as you get stronger. Exercising can help make your heart stronger, lower your blood pressure, and keep you healthy.
For more information:
Having postpartum thyroiditis is hard. You and those close to you may feel scared, angry, or sad. These are normal feelings. Talk to your caregivers, family, or friends about your feelings. Contact the following for more information:
- American Thyroid Association
6066 Leesburg Pike, Suite 550
Falls Church , VA 22041
Phone: 1- 703 - 998-8890
Phone: 1- 800 - 849-7643
Web Address: www.thyroid.org
CONTACT A CAREGIVER IF:
- You have a fever.
- You feel very nervous and restless.
- You have pain or swelling in your muscles.
- Your voice becomes hoarse or you have itchiness in your throat.
- You run out of thyroid medicine or stopped taking it without your caregiver's advice.
- You cannot make it to your next appointment.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or medicines.
SEEK CARE IMMEDIATELY IF:
- You have chest pains or trouble breathing all of a sudden.
- Your heart is beating very fast and you are becoming very restless.
- You just fainted or had a seizure (convulsion).
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.