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Thyroid Problems (cont.)

When to Seek Medical Care

The signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism typically develop slowly over a period of weeks to months. If an individual has prolonged symptoms or signs of either condition, call a doctor to be evaluated.

Untreated hypothyroidism may have severe effects on the brain as well as cause intestinal obstruction and inability of the heart to beat effectively. An infection, exposure to cold, trauma, and certain medications may often cause a worsening of hypothyroidism.

Seek immediate attention at a hospital's emergency department if you have these signs and symptoms associated with thyroid problems.

Severe hyperthyroidism, called thyrotoxic crisis (thyroid storm), may be life-threatening because of its effects on the heart and brain. It often occurs in people who are untreated or are receiving inadequate treatment for thyroid problems. A severe infection can also cause a thyrotoxic crisis.

Seek immediate attention at a hospital's emergency department if you have these signs and symptoms associated with thyroid problems.

  • Chest pain
  • Rapid and/or irregular heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Extreme agitation or irritability
  • Dizziness
  • Disorientation (person has no knowledge of the date or location)
  • Fever
  • Coma

Severe goiter or nodule problem: Seek immediate attention at a hospital's emergency department if you have these signs and symptoms associated with thyroid problems.

  • Shortness of breath especially with stridor (a whistling sound in your neck when you breathe)
  • Extreme pain in your thyroid gland that prevents you from swallowing
  • Sudden enlargement of your thyroid gland, especially if associated with problems breathing or swallowing
  • Pain and high fever with the thyroid enlargement
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/16/2012
Medical Author:

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