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Postpartum Thyroiditis


  • 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.
    Thyroid and Parathyroid Glands
  • 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.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.


  • Treatments for postpartum thyroiditis have risks. Radioactive iodine may be passed on to babies from breast feeding mothers. This may cause health problems for your baby. You may have allergies to the antithyroid medicines. You may have trouble breathing or your heart problems may get worse. You may lose some of your hair from hormone replacement therapy.
  • If left untreated, the symptoms that you have may get worse. You may have a large thyroid gland for a period of time. Your heart may beat very fast, and you may be depressed and have problems thinking. Your eyes may bulge and may cause problems with your eyesight. Talk to your caregiver if you have questions about your thyroiditis, medicine, or care.


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.


You may need to rest in bed until your heart rate is under control. Ask caregivers if you may exercise your legs in bed. Do this by lifting one leg off the bed and drawing big circles with your toes. Your caregiver will tell you when it is OK to get out of bed. Call your caregiver before getting up for the first time. If you ever feel weak or dizzy, sit or lie down right away.


This test is a type of ultrasound. Sound waves are used to show the structure, movement, and blood vessels of your heart.

Heart monitor:

This is also called an ECG or EKG. Sticky pads placed on your skin record your heart's electrical activity.

An IV (intravenous)

is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.


  • Antianxiety medicine: This medicine may be given to decrease anxiety and help you feel calm and relaxed.
  • Anti-thyroid medicine: This medicine decreases the amount of thyroid hormone made by your thyroid gland. This medicine can also cause your thyroid to stop making thyroid hormone completely.
  • Heart medicine: This medicine is given to strengthen or regulate your heartbeat. It also may help your heart in other ways. Talk with your caregiver to find out what your heart medicine is and why you are taking it.
  • Radioactive iodine: This medicine damages cells in your thyroid gland, decreasing the amount of thyroid hormone in your blood. This may help your body work better. After taking radioactive iodine, your thyroid gland may still make too much or not enough hormone. If this happens, you may still need to take thyroid medicine.
  • Thyroid hormone: You are given this medicine to bring your thyroid hormone level back to normal.


  • Blood tests: You may need blood taken to give caregivers information about how your body is working. The blood may be taken from your hand, arm, or IV.
  • Thyroid scan: This test shows caregivers how well your thyroid is working. Radioactive dye is put into your IV or is given to you to drink. The working part of the thyroid gland absorbs (soaks up) the dye. Two to 48 hours later, caregivers put a machine called a scintillator over your neck. The machine takes pictures showing the areas of your thyroid that absorbed the dye.

Vital signs:

Caregivers will check your blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and temperature. They will also ask about your pain. These vital signs give caregivers information about your current health.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Postpartum Thyroiditis (Inpatient Care)

Associated drugs

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