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, incidence, and risk factors

Thyroid storm results from untreated hyperthyroidism. It is usually brought on by a stress such as trauma or infection.

Symptoms

Symptoms are severe and may include:

  • Agitation
  • Change in alertness (consciousness)
  • Confusion
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Pounding heart (tachycardia)
  • Restlessness
  • Shaking
  • Sweating

Signs and tests

  • The top number in a blood pressure reading may be high
  • Heart rate is increased

Blood tests are done to evaluate thyroid function.

  • TSH is usually too low to detect.
  • Thyroid hormone levels such as free T4 and total T3 are high.

Complications

Congestive heart failure and pulmonary edema can develop rapidly and lead to death.

Calling your health care provider

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

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