Myxedema Coma

  • Medical Author:
    Ruchi Mathur, MD, FRCP(C)

    Ruchi Mathur, MD, FRCP(C) is an Attending Physician with the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism and Associate Director of Clinical Research, Recruitment and Phenotyping with the Center for Androgen Related Disorders, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Thyroid in women

Hypothyroidism definition and facts

  • Hypothyroidism refers to any state in which a person's thyroid hormone production is below normal.
  • There are many disorders that result in hypothyroidism, for example, autoimmune disorders, thyroid removal, prescription medications, pituitary disease, and iodine deficiency.
  • The thyroid gland is regulated by another gland that is located in the brain, the pituitary.
  • Hypothyroidism is a very common condition.
  • The symptoms of hypothyroidism are depend on the deficiency of thyroid hormone, but can include
    • increased cholesterol levels,
    • depression,
    • fatigue,
    • hair loss
    • memory loss,
    • dry, rough skin, and
    • constipation.
  • A blood test is used to confirm hypothyroidism.
  • With the exception of certain conditions, the treatment of hypothyroidism requires life-long medication.

What is myxedema coma?

Myxedema coma is a loss of brain function as a result of severe, longstanding low level of thyroid hormone in the blood (hypothyroidism). Myxedema coma is considered a life-threatening complication of hypothyroidism and represents the far more serious side of the spectrum of thyroid disease.

Who is affected by myxedema coma?

Myxedema coma is not common, but tends to be seen more frequently in elderly patients and in women. There is an increased incidence in the winter months, which is likely secondary to the extremes in temperature. Myxedema coma can actually result in death. Fortunately, the condition is rare.

What are the symptoms of hypothyroidism?

Before a patient develops myxedema coma, features of hypothyroidism are usually present and may have gone unsuspected for a long period of time.

These symptoms include:

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/23/2016

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