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Silent Lymphocytic Thyroiditis

(Postpartum Thyroiditis)

By

Laura Boucai

, MD, Weill Cornell Medical College

Reviewed/Revised Feb 2024
VIEW PROFESSIONAL VERSION
Topic Resources

Silent lymphocytic thyroiditis is painless, autoimmune inflammation of the thyroid that typically develops after childbirth and usually goes away on its own.

Silent lymphocytic thyroiditis occurs most often among women, typically 3 to 4 months after childbirth, and causes the thyroid to become enlarged without becoming tender. The disorder tends to recur with subsequent pregnancies.

The Thyroid
VIDEO

Symptoms of Silent Lymphocytic Thyroiditis

Silent lymphocytic thyroiditis begins in the 3 to 4 months following childbirth. It starts with a hyperthyroid phase when the thyroid gland gets bigger without any pain or tenderness. Then, hypothyroidism develops before the condition usually resolves on its own.

Did You Know...

  • The word "silent" in silent lymphocytic thyroiditis indicates that the thyroid inflammation causes no pain or tenderness.

  • "Lymphocytic" refers to the type of white blood cells seen when thyroid tissue is examined with a microscope.

Diagnosis of Silent Lymphocytic Thyroiditis

  • Thyroid function blood tests

The diagnosis of silent lymphocytic thyroiditis is made based on a person's symptoms and the results of the examination and thyroid function blood tests Thyroid function blood tests The thyroid is a small gland, measuring about 2 inches (5 centimeters) across, that is located just under the skin in the neck. The two halves (lobes) of the gland are connected in the middle... read more . Rarely, doctors do a biopsy of the thyroid to confirm the diagnosis.

If a woman developed silent lymphocytic thyroiditis after a pregnancy, doctors usually test for the disorder after subsequent pregnancies.

Treatment of Silent Lymphocytic Thyroiditis

  • Beta-blocker for hyperthyroidism

  • Thyroid hormone replacement for hypothyroidism

Hyperthyroidism may require treatment for a few weeks, often with a beta-blocker such as atenolol. Beta-blockers help control many of the symptoms of hyperthyroidism. For example, these medications can slow a fast heart rate, reduce tremors, and control anxiety.

During the period of hypothyroidism, the person may need to take thyroid hormone, usually for no longer than about 12 months. However, hypothyroidism becomes permanent in about 10% of people with silent lymphocytic thyroiditis, and these people must take thyroid hormone for the rest of their life.

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