Hyperthyroidism: Thyroid Storm

Hyperthyroidism: Thyroid Storm

A Thyroid Storm is a life-threatening health condition associated with untreated or undertreated hyperthyroidism. During a thyroid storm, a person’s heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature can soar to dangerously high levels. Without prompt, aggressive treatment, thyroid storm is often debilitating or even fatal. Most people do not realize that we have a small gland that controls and regulates so many organs within our body. This thyroid gland has a lot of control over our organs and metabolism.

Recognizing Symptoms

It is not always easy to recognize symptoms because they can be masked as so many others ailments. I suffer from hyperthyroidism as well as hypothyroidism. This is very odd because these are opposites in so many ways and some instances they are similar. At all times I must be careful and aware of the changes in my body and the symptoms I am feeling. To be honest, it is tough to tell what is going on sometimes accurately. If you have been diagnosed or know someone that has, below are the causes and symptoms of a thyroid storm. As with any medical condition, it is better to treat and get medical attention at the onset rather than later to ensure a speedy recovery.

Causes of Thyroid Storm

If you have hyperthyroidism, your thyroid is overproducing hormones. This causes all of your cells to work too quickly. For example, your respiration rate and heart rate will be higher than they normally would. You may even speak far faster than you usually do. A thyroid storm is rare. The storm develops in people who have hyperthyroidism but aren’t receiving appropriate treatment. This condition happens with the extreme overproduction of the hormones produced by the thyroid gland. Not all people with hyperthyroidism will develop a thyroid storm. Here are some causes of this condition:

  • a severe undertreated hyperthyroidism

  • an untreated overactive thyroid gland

  • an infection associated with hyperthyroidism

Individuals with hyperthyroidism may develop thyroid storm after experiencing one of the following:

  • trauma

  • surgery

  • severe emotional distress

  • stroke

  • diabetic ketoacidosis

  • congestive heart failure

  • pulmonary embolism

Symptoms of Thyroid Storm

Symptoms of thyroid storm are similar to those of hyperthyroidism, but they are more sudden, severe, and extreme. The symptoms are often debilitating, which is why people with thyroid storm might not be able to seek care on their own. Common symptoms include:

  • racing heart rate (tachycardia) that exceeds 140 beats per minute, and atrial fibrillation

  • high fever

  • persistent sweating

  • shaking

  • agitation

  • restlessness

  • confusion

  • diarrhea

  • unconsciousness

Preventing Thyroid Storm

The most efficient way to avoid the onset of a thyroid storm is to keep up with your thyroid health plan. Take your medications correctly. Keep all appointments with your doctor and follow through with blood work orders as needed.You must also monitor your body changes and make a note of them. I notice when my weight starts to fluctuate 5 - 10 pounds, when I comb my hair, and there is hair in the sink.  When my nails become instantly brittle, when my appetite changes, when I can't sleep or when I can't seem to stay awake, and when I am drained and have no energy. I have to also monitor my blood pressure and the swelling of my body. All of these are signs that "something is going on." I will call my doctor, and she will have lab work done to see if there are any change in my lab blood results since last time. If necessary, she will adjust my medication. Please remember that no one knows your body as you do.For more information regarding your health and a thyroid storm. Please check out the companion article "Trusting God When Your Health Is Not Good."

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