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Myxedema Coma

Myxedema Coma Overview

The thyroid gland, located at the front part of the neck, is responsible for making substances called thyroid hormones that are important for all body cells to work properly.

In certain conditions, the thyroid becomes underactive and produces fewer amounts of its hormones, a situation called hypothyroidism. People with hypothyroidism have problems that reflect underactivity of the organs of the body, resulting in symptoms such as fatigue, feeling cold, weight gain, dry skin, and sleepiness. When the levels of thyroid hormones become very low, the symptoms get worse and can result in a serious condition called myxedema coma. Myxedema coma is a rare but life-threatening condition. People with hypothyroidism who are in or near a coma should be taken to an emergency department immediately.

Myxedema Coma Causes

If you have hypothyroidism, then any of the following can contribute to myxedema coma:

  • Infections, especially lung and urine infections
  • Heart failure
  • Stroke
  • Trauma
  • Surgery
  • Drugs, such as phenothiazines, amiodarone, lithium, and tranquilizers, narcotics, and prolonged iodide use
  • Not taking prescribed thyroid medications
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/31/2014
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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Myxedema Coma or Crisis »

The term myxedema has been applied to several clinical entities and is often used interchangeably with severe hypothyroidism, the common clinical condition in which the thyroid gland produces abnormally low levels of hormones.

Read More on Medscape Reference »


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