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Silent Lymphocytic Thyroiditis

(Postpartum Thyroiditis)

By Jerome M. Hershman, MD, MS, Distinguished Professor of Medicine Emeritus; Director of the Endocrine Clinic, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA;West Los Angeles VA Medical Center

Silent lymphocytic thyroiditis is painless, autoimmune inflammation of the thyroid that typically develops after childbirth and 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.

For several weeks to several months, people have an overactive thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism) followed by an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) before eventually recovering normal thyroid function.


  • 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.

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.