Your Changing Body

Is it Your Thyroid?


Feeling exhausted, moody and anxious is all part of having a newborn, right? Maybe not, says Maureen Groer, Ph.D., a professor of nursing at University of South Florida College in Tampa and author of a study on postpartum thyroiditis (PPT). This inflammation of the thyroid gland is diagnosed after pregnancy in 5 percent to 10 percent of U.S. women, but Groer believes it’s far more common. “Many women ignore the symptoms because they think it’s a normal part of being a new mom,” she says. To help detect PPT, Groer recommends that all new moms do the following:

Understand your risk factors. Diabetics, smokers and women who have a personal or family history of thyroid disease are more likely to suffer from PPT.

Know when it happens. Onethird of women who develop PPT will experience an over active (hyper) thyroid one to four months postpartum, followed by an underactive (hypo) thyroid at four to eight months. The other two-thirds of women will experience only one phase.

Identify the signs. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include weight loss, anxiety, insomnia, rapid heart rate, fatigue and irritability. Hypothyroid symptoms include weight gain, fatigue, constipation, dry skin and depression.

Make an appointment. Call your doctor if you suspect you have PPT. With medication, most women’s PPT is cured by 12 months.