Thyroid Storm: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment for Thyrotoxic Condition

Thyroid storm is a thyrotoxic condition caused in persons suffering from hyperthyroidism. It is a life threatening condition where there is excessive over production of T3 or/and T4 hormone in the blood.

Thyroid storm (thyrotoxicosis) occurs much more in women than in men, usually in the third to fifth decades, but it may occur at any age.

Clinical recognition of thyroid storm is very important to reduce the fatality. An urgent and emergency line of treatment is started as soon as it is diagnosed.

Thyroid storm is usually caused in people who are untreated for hyperthyroidism. Thyroid storm can be seen shortly after thyroidectomy (surgery of thyroid gland), or it can also occur as a result of severe infection of bacterial or viral origin for e.g. pneumonia.

Causes of Thyroid Storm

There is a surge of thyroid hormone in the blood due to,

  • A patient suffering from hyperthyroidism stops taking the medicines for hyperthyroidism without consulting his physician.
  • Undetected hyperthyroidism, where a large amount of thyroid hormone is released in small time period.
  • Treatment with radioactive iodine.
  • Hyperthyroidism patient suffering from severe infection.
  • Myocardial infarction in persons who have a hyperthyroid function.

Symptoms of Thyroid Storm

  • Increased body temperature.
  • Rapidly beating heart.
  • Pain in the chest.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Fine tremors of fingers.
  • Retraction of upper eyelids.
  • Hands are often hot and sweaty because of increased metabolic rate.
  • Intolerance to warm temperature.
  • Anxiety.
  • Delirium
  • Weakness both mentally and physically.
  • Cardiac failure.
  • Breathlessness.

If thyroid storm (thyrotoxicosis) occurs before the puberty, there is frequently an increase in the growth rate so that affected children are unusually tall for their age.

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People having hyperthyroidism having high fever, rapid heart rate, diarrhea, confusion and disorientation should be immediately hospitalized for evaluation and treatment.

  • Hospital treatment may include intravenous electrolytes fluids, oxygen, antipyretics to control fever and other symptomatic line of treatment.
  • Anti thyroid drugs to block the secretion of thyroid hormones.
  • Iodide to block thyroid hormone secretion.
  • Beta blockers and corticosteroids.
  • Treating heart problems if developed.

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