What is a Thyroid Storm: Symptoms & Treatment
A butterfly-shaped gland in the lower part of the neck, the thyroid, is essential to our health.
Our thyroid gland produces and releases hormones that play a crucial role in managing the metabolism.
However, what happens if something goes amiss?
For instance, hyperthyroidism is when the thyroid consistently overproduces hormones. Worse yet, a thyroid storm occurs if the thyroid releases too many hormones too quickly.
In this blog, we’ll go over:
- What is a thyroid storm?
- What are thyroid storm symptoms?
- What is thyroid storm treatment?
So let’s get started.
What is a thyroid storm (aka thyrotoxic crisis)?
Also known as a thyrotoxic crisis, a thyroid storm can be fatal if it isn’t managed immediately.
A thyrotoxic crisis is rare but occurs when the thyroid gland floods the body with hormones.
The thyroid gland is responsible for making T3 and T4, and they aren’t Terminator movies.
T3 (triiodothyronine) and T4 (thyroxine) are hormones that work as a team to help:
- Regulate body temperature
- Control heart rate
- Manage metabolism
If T3 and T4 are too plentiful and released in a short time, your body will go into a thyrotoxic crisis. It’s a medical emergency and should be dealt with as such.
What are thyroid storm symptoms?
Like hyperthyroidism, thyroid storm signs and symptoms are similar, but the key difference lies in the speed at which they appear.
Thyrotoxic crisis symptoms are more severe and come on more suddenly. Therefore, people experiencing this health condition often cannot treat it independently.
Common thyroid storm signs and symptoms include:
- Fever (usually over 100.5 F)
- Racing heart (over 140 beats per minute)
- Excessive sweating
- Jaundice or yellowing of the skin (although less common)
If you’re experiencing a thyrotoxic crisis, you’ll likely feel bad all over, as it impacts many parts of your body. You may feel sweaty, hot, and anxious. Furthermore, you may even become sick to your stomach, go unconscious, or slip into a coma.
Getting to the closest emergency room as soon as possible is critical if experiencing any of these signs.
What are the causes?
Researchers aren’t entirely certain why particular factors can result in a thyrotoxic crisis. Although we know this condition can more easily develop when someone has had untreated or undertreated hyperthyroidism for a long time.
According to Cleveland Clinic, sudden circumstances that can provoke a thyrotoxic crisis include:
- Having a stroke
- Giving birth
- Having a sudden surge of iodine in the body
- Taking thyroid medicine incorrectly
- Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA)
- Reacting to a drug
Surgery, heart failure, and infection can also spur the condition on.
How do you diagnose this severe condition?
Individuals in thyrotoxic crises typically display a speeding heart rate and spiked blood pressure.
If you or someone else shows symptoms of this condition, medical professionals urge you to call 911 immediately. There’s no time to waste.
A physician usually begins treatment before lab results are in because time is ticking.
However, a healthcare provider will often do a blood test to gauge thyroid hormone levels.
Doctors may also do a physical exam and look for signs such as:
- Enlarged thyroid gland (goiter)
- Swelling or bulging eyes (a complication of Grave’s disease)
- Raised eyelid when looking down (lid lag)
- Damp or warm skin
- Atrial fibrillation
How do you diagnose a thyroid issue?
If you have any questions about how your thyroid is functioning, contact a medical doctor as soon as possible.
A physician will help guide you towards testing, diagnosis, and treatment. Our thyroids can be over or underactive if they’re not working normally. So it’s always best to get a clear picture of your health.
For non-emergency thyroid questions or testing, we suggest contacting a Ravkoo MD through our convenient Ravkoo Health app.
After the app is downloaded onto your smartphone, you can access various healthcare services.
To get started:
- Download the Ravkoo Health app.
- Use Ravkoo MD to book and consult with a doctor.
- Use Ravkoo RX to order an at-home thyroid test.
- Receive lab results on the app and share them with a doctor of your choosing.
What is thyroid storm treatment?
Handle any symptoms of a thyrotoxic crisis with great urgency. Call the medics or go to your local emergency room.
Thyroid storm treatment includes
- Beta-blockers to help handle symptoms.
- Antithyroid meds to prevent the thyroid gland from producing new hormones.
- Iodine solution to halt thyroid hormone release.
- Acetaminophen and a cooling body cover to decrease temperature.
- Supplemental oxygen to support the respiratory system.
If you’re experiencing a thyrotoxic crisis, you’ll probably be in the ICU and remain under medical supervision until stabilized.
After thorough and correct treatment by a medical professional, you may feel better within one day, but it can take up to three. Lastly, a medical provider should be the only one to give thyroid storm treatment.
A thyrotoxic crisis is just that – a crisis! If you have hypothyroidism, you must take your meds properly, check in with your doctor regularly, and stay tuned to how you feel because prevention is better than damage control.
If anything is off in the slightest, don’t hesitate to seek emergency care.