Thyroid Storm Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

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There are really not many emergencies that we need to worry about regarding the thyroid gland - but thyroid storm is one of the rare exceptions. Thyroid storm is a medical emergency condition and needs to be treated immediately; even before all confirmatory diagnostic tests are performed.

What is Thyroid Storm?

Thyroid storm is a crisis or life-threatening condition characterized by an exaggeration of the usual physiologic response seen in hyperthyroidism. Whereas hyperthyroidism can cause symptoms such as sweating, feeling hot, palpitations and weight loss - symptoms of thyroid storm are more severe, resulting in complications such as:

Fever tends to be one of the hallmark signs of thyroid storm and can be as high as 105-106 F (40.5-41.1 C). The actual diagnosis of thyroid storm is made on the basis of suspicion in patients with symptoms described above and physical findings of an enlarged thyroid gland (thyromegaly), wide pulse pressure, and exophthalmos (protruding eyes). Not all affected individuals will exhibit all symptoms. These symptoms in addition to the findings of elevated thyroid hormones and other tests that may be performed emergently provide a strong presumptive diagnosis of thyroid storm. Conditions such as severe sepsis, pheochromocytoma, and malignant hyperthermia can mimic thyroid storm; consequently, determination of a definitive diagnosis should still be performed with appropriate tests.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/14/2016

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