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Thyroid storm

Definition

Thyroid storm is a life-threatening condition that develops in cases of untreated thyrotoxicosis (hyperthyroidism, or overactive thyroid).

Alternative Names

Thyrotoxic storm; Hyperthyroid storm; Accelerated hyperthyroidism

Causes

Thyroid storm occurs in people with untreated hyperthyroidism. It is usually brought on by a major stress such as trauma, heart attack, or infection. Thyroid storm is very rare.

Symptoms

Symptoms are severe and may include any of the following:

Exams and Tests


  • The systolic (top number) blood pressure reading may be high, and the diastolic (bottom number) blood pressure may be low
  • Heart rate is increased

Blood tests are done to check thyroid hormones TSH and T3.

Possible Complications

Irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias) may occur. Heart failure and pulmonary edema can develop rapidly and lead to death.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

This is an emergency condition. Call 911 or another emergency number if you have hyperthyroidism and experience symptoms of thyroid storm.

References

Bahn RS, Burch HB, Cooper DS, et al. Hyperthyroidism and other causes of thyrotoxicosis: Management Guidelines of the American Thyroid Association and American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists. Endocr Pract. 2011;17:457-520.

Mandel SJ, Larsen PR, Davies TF. Thyrotoxicosis. In: Melmed S, Polonsky KS, Larsen PR, Kronenberg HM. Williams Textbook of Endocrinology. 12th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 12.


Review Date: 5/10/2014
Reviewed By: Brent Wisse, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology & Nutrition, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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