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Silent Lymphocytic Thyroiditis

(Postpartum Thyroiditis)


Jerome M. Hershman

, MD, MS, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Last full review/revision Oct 2020| Content last modified Oct 2020
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 three to four months after childbirth, and causes the thyroid to become enlarged without becoming tender. The disorder recurs with each subsequent pregnancy.

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 the woman develops hypothyroidism before the condition usually resolves on its own. During the second phase, the woman may experience symptoms of hypothyroidism Symptoms Hypothyroidism is underactivity of the thyroid gland that leads to inadequate production of thyroid hormones and a slowing of vital body functions. Facial expressions become dull, the voice... read more Symptoms , which may include fatigue, weight gain, constipation, dry skin and hair, and cold intolerance.

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 tests

The diagnosis of silent lymphocytic thyroiditis is made based on a person's symptoms and the results of the examination and thyroid function tests Thyroid function tests The thyroid is a small gland, measuring about 2 inches (5 centimeters) across, that lies just under the skin below the Adam’s apple in the neck. The two halves (lobes) of the gland are connected... 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 drugs 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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