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Symptoms and Signs of Thyroid Storm

Doctor's Notes on Thyroid Storm

When thyroid hormone levels become extremely elevated, the symptoms of overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) may worsen and can result in a serious condition called thyroid storm or thyrotoxic crisis. A thyroid storm is rare, but is a life-threatening emergency. Causes of thyroid storm include infections, thyroid surgery, stopping medications given for hyperthyroidism, thyroid hormone replacement taken in too high doses, treatment with radioactive iodine, pregnancy, heart attack, or other cardiac emergencies.

Symptoms of thyroid storm include rapid heart beat (palpitations), greatly increased body temperature (may be as high as 105-106 F/40.5-41.1 C), increased sweating, chest pain, shortness of breath, anxiety, irritability, disorientation, weakness, and heart failure. Thyroid storm is a life-threatening medical emergency and a person experiencing symptoms should be taken to a hospital’s emergency department immediately.

Medical Author: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019

Thyroid Storm Symptoms

Thyroid Storm Causes

Thyroid storm can be considered to be an extreme degree of hyperthyroidism and typically occurs in an individual with untreated hyperthyroidism. Precipitating factors, including trauma and stresses, have been identified, including:

  • Infections, especially of the lung
  • Thyroid surgery in patients with overactive thyroid gland
  • Stopping medications given for hyperthyroidism
  • Treatment with radioactive iodine
  • Pregnancy
  • Heart attack or cardiac emergencies

Thyroid Problems Explained Slideshow

Thyroid Problems Explained Slideshow

It's hard to tell if you have thyroid abnormalities. You might feel run down and tired, or have what is known as "brain fog." You may be gaining weight, pregnant, or experiencing hair loss. Others may feel "hyper," anxious, or sweat a lot more than usual. All of these are common symptoms of thyroid disorders. The thyroid gland regulates many processes within the body, and women are particularly likely to have disorders that affect the function of this essential gland. Recognizing and treating these conditions is critical for optimum health and preventing long-term health problems.

REFERENCE:

Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.

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