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What Does A Thyroid Storm Feel Like

What Causes Thyroid Storm


Thyroid storm can be considered to be an extreme degree of hyperthyroidism and typically occurs in an individual with untreated hyperthyroidism. Precipitating factors, including trauma and stresses, have been identified, including:

  • Infections, especially of the lung
  • Thyroid surgery in patients with overactive thyroid gland
  • Stopping medications given for hyperthyroidism
  • Treatment with radioactive iodine

Causes Of Your Thyroid Pain

While thyroid pain can be caused by many possible reasons; the disorders that are commonly responsible for thyroid pain are as follows:

  • Thyroid cyst causes pain in the thyroid gland
  • Viral thyroiditis: a viral infection caused by mumps virus, coxsackie virus, adenovirus etc
  • Thyroid tumor can cause severe thyroid pain
  • Subacute granulomatous thyroiditis , also referred to as painful sub-acute thyroiditisorde Quervains thyroiditis is a common thyroid disorder that can cause pain and tenderness in front of the neck or throat.
  • Hashimotos disease
  • Advanced carcinoma of the thyroid gland that spreads to distant body sites causes unbearable thyroid pain along with other complications
  • A goiter is benign enlargement of the thyroid gland that can cause pain in the thyroid gland
  • Trauma or injury to the neck or throat can also result in severe thyroid pain in neck
  • Inflammation of the thyroglossal fistula orthyroglossal cyst is associated with thyroid pain
  • Hyperthyroidism can cause thyroid pain
  • Hypothyroidism

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Thyroid Storm Is A Rare But Severe Form Of Untreated Or Under

With Takashi Akamizu, MD, PhD, and Elizabeth Pearce, MD, MSc

If you have been diagnosed with an overactive thyroid, you may have concerns about thyroid storm an extreme but very rare form of untreated hyperthyroidism.

According to recent estimates, thyroid storma severe form of thyrotoxicosis affects less than one person in every 100,000 annually across the US population. Even so, it’s crucial to know about the condition, what may trigger thyroid storm, how it should be managed, and what you can do to reduce your risk of developing it.1

Thyroid storm occurs when your thyroid gland, located at the base of your neck, releases large amounts of thyroid hormone suddenly. Your systolic blood pressure may rise, while your diastolic plummets. Your heartbeat may speed up, and you may have difficulty breathing, and yellowing of the skin . Emergency medical attention is required to avoid suffering from multiple organ failure,;heart failure, or other related causes.1

Seeing your health practitioner at least once a year will assure your thyroid hormone levels are norrmal.

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How Is Graves Disease Diagnosed

Your health care provider may suspect Graves disease based on your symptoms and what she uncovers during a physical exam. Tests that can confirm the diagnosis include:

  • Thyroid function tests: A blood sample is tested to see if it has the right amount of thyroid hormones.
  • Radioactive iodine uptake : This test measures the amount of iodine the thyroid pulls from the bloodstream. If it takes up too much, you may have Graves disease.;
  • Antibody tests: A blood sample is sent to the lab to look for antibodies substances that destroy foreign invaders like bacteria and viruses that suggest Graves disease.

What Is A Thyroid Storm

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Dr Mark Vanderpump2017-05-144 on Wed 24May

Also known as a thyroid or thyrotoxic crisis, a thyroid storm is a rare but life threatening condition which is associated with hyperthyroidism that is left untreated or undertreated.

Typically theres an exaggeration of the bodys usual response seen in hyperthyroidism with patients abruptly experiencing multi system involvement. The three main symptoms include:

  • An elevated body temperature this could be up to 105F or 41C
  • Palpitations
  • Changes in mental status such as anxiety or confusion
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes
  • High blood pressure

In this situation you will feel very unwell indeed and will be unable to function normally so friends, family or colleagues should immediately dial 999 or take you to an A&E Department. ;;Mortality rates are high – approaching about 15% – with patients dying from congestive heart failure.

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What Complications Of Hyperthyroidism Can Affect My Body

Hyperthyroidism can impact many parts of your body. Different systems, ranging from your vascular system to your skeletal system can all be affected if you have an overactive thyroid.


When you have hyperthyroidism, it may feel like your heart is beating very quickly. This rapid heartbeat is a symptom of the condition thats caused by your fast metabolism. The body is running faster than normal when you have hyperthyroidism, making you feel like your heart is racing. Having an irregular heartbeat can increase your risk of different medical conditions, including stroke.


The bones are the support structure for your body. When you have unchecked high levels of thyroid hormones, your bones can actually become brittle. This can lead to a condition called osteoporosis.

Eyes and Skin

Hyperthyroidism can be caused by a medical condition called Graves disease. This disease can affect both your eyes and skin. It can cause you to have several eye problems, including:

  • Bulging eyes.
  • Double vision and light sensitivity.
  • Redness and swelling of the eyes.

Graves disease can also cause your skin to become red and swollen. This is particularly noticeable on the feet and shins.

Another complication of hyperthyroidism is something called a thyroid storm . This is a sudden and dramatic increase in your symptoms. When this happens, your heart may beat even faster than normal and you may develop a fever. A thyroid storm is an emergency situation.

Thyroid Storm Triggered By Strangulation In A Patient With Undiagnosed Graves Disease

1Department of Medicine, Jackson Memorial Hospital/University of Miami, Miami, FL, USA

2Division of Endocrinology, Department of Medicine, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, FL, USA


Thyroid storm is the life-threatening end-organ manifestation of severe thyrotoxicosis. If left untreated, thyroid storm may cause acute heart failure, multiorgan dysfunction, and death. A high degree of suspicion is necessary to make the diagnosis and start antithyroid medications to decrease mortality. Thyroid storm is generally seen in patients with Graves disease but should also be suspected in patients with fever, tachycardia, altered mental status, and risk factors including local trauma to the neck, such as strangulation. Based on our review, we report the first case of thyroid storm after strangulation as the presentation of previously undiagnosed Graves disease.

1. Introduction

2. Case Presentation

Two days later, thyroid hormones decreased significantly with T3 149.4ng/dl and FT4 2.54ng/dl. Additionally, her temperature, heart rate, pulmonary edema, and mental status gradually improved. On day ten, after five days of normal thyroid hormones, methimazole dose was decreased, hydrocortisone was discontinued, and propranolol was titrated off; however there was a slight increase in the FT4 and T3 which can be appreciated in Figure 2, and the dose was readjusted and she was extubated and safely left the ICU.

3. Discussion

4. Conclusion

Conflicts of Interest

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How Stress Affects Thyroid Problems

Stress is a part of everyday life, but for people with Graves’ disease, a potentially fatal condition called thyroid storm can result.

Stress seems to be a factor that’s linked to the complications of many health conditions, including thyroid problems. But that link is often difficult to define and even harder to prove.

While there’s no proof of a relationship between stress and most thyroid problems, says Mario Skugor, MD, an endocrinologist with the Cleveland Clinic, his experience is that many patients will talk about thyroid-related symptoms and mention stressful events occurring around the same time.

“Most endocrinologists have this nagging feeling that there is a connection between stress and thyroid conditions, but whenever the theory is tested, it’s never held true,” . He notes that there have been several studies done on stress and thyroid problems, but a clear connection has yet to be discovered.

Can I Develop Hyperthyroidism During Or After Pregnancy

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During early pregnancy, your body needs to produce more thyroid hormones than normal to help the baby develop. These hormones are particularly important for your babys brain and nervous system. Having thyroid hormone levels that are a little higher than normal is alright, but if your levels increase dramatically, your healthcare provider may need to form a treatment plan. High levels of hyperthyroidism can impact not only you, but also your baby.

It can be difficult to diagnose hyperthyroidism during pregnancy because your thyroid hormone levels naturally increase and the other symptoms of pregnancy mask signs of hyperthyroidism.

There is also a condition called postpartum thyroiditis that happens after your baby is born. This condition can happen during the first year after birth. Its more common in women who also have type 1 diabetes. Postpartum thyroiditis can start out as hyperthyroidism and then shift into hypothyroidism. However, this pattern doesnt happen to every woman with postpartum thyroiditis. If you begin having symptoms of a thyroid disease during or after pregnancy, talk to your healthcare provider.

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Diagnostic Tests/lab Tests/lab Values

The diagnostic workup begins with a thyroid-stimulating hormone level test. Hyperthyroidism is normally associated with suppressed TSH, with the exception of TSH-secreting pituitary adenoma. In mild hyperthyroidism T4 would be normal, but T3 would be elevated. When T3 is elevated it is known as toxicosis and almost always precedes Graves Disease. When test results are uncertain, measuring radioactive iodine uptake can confirm the presence of hyperthyroidism and differentiate among causes of hyperthyroidism. RIU studies are elevated in Graves disease and nodular thyrotoxicosis but are very low in people whose hyperthyroidism is caused by thyroiditis.

What Causes A Thyroid Storm

There are several situations that can precipitate this condition including:

  • Infections especially chest infections
  • Thyroid surgery or radioiodine treatment in uncontrolled hyperthyroid patients
  • Pregnancy
  • Cardiac emergencies

Unfortunately thyroid abnormalities also present themselves in about 16% of cancer patients being treated by immunotherapy. Endocrinologists need to be involved in managing these side effects to avoid the onset of life threatening conditions such as a thyroid storm

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Stage : Progression To Other Autoimmune Disorders

Having Hashimotos puts a person at greater risk for developing another autoimmune condition like celiac disease, psoriasis, Sjogrens, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, and many others

This is a progression of the autoimmune response as the immune system continues to be imbalanced, it may find additional glands and body tissues to attack, such as the small intestine in celiac disease, saliva and tear glands in Sjogrens, and the joints in rheumatoid arthritis.

At this stage, the person will have been likely treated with thyroid medications, so if they are receiving ideal treatment, their TSH, Free T3, and Free T4 numbers should be in a good range.

But, unfortunately, thyroid medications and removing the thyroid gland do nothing to stop the disease progression.

If a person is not well controlled with medications, has an enlarged thyroid gland, out of control antibodies, Graves disease, thyroid nodules, or thyroid cancer, or is not able to have balanced thyroid hormones as they swing from hyper/hypothyroidism, some doctors may recommend surgical removal of the thyroid gland.

Removing the thyroid gland will eliminate thyroid antibodies, but unfortunately, will not stop the autoimmune progression.

Additionally, people who have had their thyroid glands removed may suffer adverse reactions from these procedures and will need to take thyroid medications for the rest of their lives.

Can Hyperthyroidism Be Cured

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Yes, there is a permanent treatment for hyperthyroidism. Removing your thyroid through surgery will cure hyperthyroidism. However, once the thyroid is removed, you will need to take thyroid hormone replacement medications for the rest of your life. Your body still needs thyroid hormones, just not at such high levels as you have in hyperthyroidism. Though you will need to regularly take the medication and check in with your healthcare provider regularly, this is a manageable form of thyroid disease which allows you to live a normal life.

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What If I Dont Treat My Graves Disease

Without treatment, Graves disease can lead to:

  • Heart problems
  • Weak and brittle bones
  • Thyroid storm, a rare but life-threatening condition brought on by an overactive thyroid that is not treated. It can be triggered by trauma, surgery or infection
  • Problems with your menstrual cycle or fertility
  • During pregnancy, serious health problems for mother and baby

What Are The Symptoms Of Goiter

The main symptoms of goiter include:

  • A swelling in the front of the neck, just below the Adams apple
  • A feeling of tightness in the throat area
  • Hoarseness
  • Dizziness when the arms are raised above the head

Other, less common symptoms include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Wheezing
  • Difficulty swallowing

Some people who have a goiter may also have hyperthyroidism, or overactive thyroid. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism can include:

  • An increased resting pulse rate
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Sweating without exercise or increased room temperature
  • Shaking

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What Should I Monitor During Treatment Session

  • Vital Signs: This is especially important if the patient is an older adult, has CAD or previous hx of heart disease, or presents with signs of dyspnea, fatigue, tachycardia, and/or arrhythmia.
  • Watch for signs of hypoparathyroidism such as muscular twitching, tetany, numbness, and tingling around mouth, fingertips, or toes if patient is post thyroidectomy. Hypoparathryoidism may result 1-7 days after thyroidectomy if there are complications during the surgery resulting in unintentional removal of part of the parathyroid glands.

What Is The Treatment For Thyroiditis

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Treatment for inflammation of the thyroid gland depends on the type of thyroiditis and the symptoms.

  • Treatment for thyrotoxicosis includes beta blockers to decrease palpitations and decrease tremors;
  • Treatment for low thyroid hormone includes thyroid hormone replacement;
  • Treatment for thyroid pain includes anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen. Steroids such as prednisone may be used if pain is severe.;

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Stage : Overt Hypothyroidism

At this stage, the person has started to have thyroid gland failure. Their thyroid gland will be destroyed to the point where they will no longer be able to make their own thyroid hormone.

The person will have an elevated TSH, with low levels of free T3 and free T4. Thyroid antibodies may be even higher than in previous stages. This is the most common stage when a person is diagnosed, as the person usually has a significant amount of thyroid symptoms at this point.

This is also the stage where a person will require thyroid medications to prevent serious health consequences. Even the staunchest conventional physicians almost always recommend thyroid medication at this point.

Lifestyle changes and the root cause approach are critical at this stage, as you will likely be very symptomatic. Since you will have likely had an inflammatory process in your body for almost a decade at this point, you will need to take on the most aggressive treatment.

I often recommend LDN at this point to prevent progression of autoimmunity.

At stage 4, natural tissue regeneration is going to be much more challenging, but luckily, there are new options that exist that can accelerate thyroid tissue repair .

What Are The Symptoms Of An Inflamed Thyroid

Thyroiditis causes the following symptoms:

  • Thyroid hormone deficiency Fatigue is a common occurrence. Gaining weight. Constipation is a common ailment.
  • Thyroid hormone levels in the blood are abnormally high Anxiety is a state of mind. Sleeping problems Palpitations in the heart
  • Tremors are a form of tremor.
  • Thyroid discomfort.

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Exploring The Experiences Of People With Thyroid Disease

A 2014 study by a group of Danish psychologists studied the effects of hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism on health-related quality of life, by doing a series of one-on-one qualitative interviews with people who had thyroid disease.

They wanted to explore the reasons, from a patient perspective, as to the struggles that people who were on thyroid medications continued to experience.

They reported that the severity of the participants symptoms varied considerably, where some didnt have any symptoms, while others had symptoms that affected almost every area of functioning.

One persons Hashimotos is not the same as another persons Hashimotos.

Researchers reported that people with thyroid disorders often felt like they had lost control over their own physical and mental states:

To me, the scariest experience after my thyroid diagnosis was the dissociation from myself. I became numb and apathetic to life, unable to feel any emotion, good or bad. I no longer had a desire for the things that made me human, such as being close to others, making friendships, following my passions and loving the people in my life. It was as though my inner love switch was turned off or dimmed and I was living in a cold, dark world and all but a very small part of me didnt care. Like the Pink Floyd Song, I had become comfortably numb.

Can you think of a time when you lost your cool with a loved one?

It doesnt help the situation that most of us are brushed off by doctors and loved ones.

How Is Hyperthyroidism Diagnosed

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If your doctor suspects hyperthyroidism, diagnosis is made through a blood test to measure TSH levels in your blood. To further delineate what the specific cause of the hyperthyroidism would be, tests such as antibody screenings, nuclear thyroid scans, and the use of radioactively labeled iodine can help pinpoint the cause. Hypothalamus and pituitary testing may also be necessary.

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