Thyroid Storm Treatment

You may have to experience several health problems if your thyroid gland is not fully functional. Most of these issues are not serious though, except for a few that require immediate medical attention such as thyroid storm. Your doctor will ask for certain tests but the thyroid storm treatment usually starts even before the test reports arrive.

What Is Thyroid Storm?

Thyroid storm is a medical emergency and may produce life-threatening consequences. It is associated with undertreated or untreated hyperthyroidism. When this condition develops, your blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature may go up to dangerous levels. Thyroid storm is often fatal unless you receive thyroid storm treatment immediately.

Why Does It Happen?

While thyroid storm is a rare condition, it can still affect you, especially when you have hyperthyroidism. You need to treat hyperthyroidism carefully or else you will end up developing thyroid storm, a condition characterized by the extreme overproduction of hormones produced by the thyroid gland. Keep in mind that it is not necessary for everyone with hyperthyroidism to eventually develop thyroid storm, but the risk is always there.

The most common causes of thyroid storm are untreated overactive thyroid gland, undertreated hyperthyroidism, and infection associated with thyroid gland. Someone with hyperthyroidism may develop thyroid storm after surgery, trauma, stroke, severe emotional distress, pulmonary embolism, diabetic ketoacidosis, and congestive heart failure.

Symptoms of Thyroid Storm

You should receive thyroid storm treatment when you experience specific symptoms associated with this condition. The most common symptoms are the same as hyperthyroidism, but the symptoms are usually severe, sudden, and extreme. You may experience confusion, restlessness, unconsciousness, diarrhea, agitation, persistent sweating, high fever, and racing heart rate (over 140 BPM).

Ways to Manage Thyroid Storm

You require treatment immediately after experiencing the symptoms of thyroid storm. It also requires hospitalization. Thyroid storm treatment usually includes life support measures to provide support to your vital organs and help them function properly. At the same time, it is important to lower the levels of thyroid hormone in the body. Your doctor will also perform other tests to identify any underlying conditions that may have caused thyroid storm.

1.        Supportive Care

During supportive care, you will receive treatment for the following problems:

  • Fever: Your doctor will take cooling measures and rely on antipyretics for relief. Acetaminophen is most commonly used to treat fever in thyroid storm.
  • Agitation: Your doctor will prescribe benzodiazepines to help treat agitation. It is the most preferred method of management.
  • Vascular instability: The most common treatment choice involves giving IV fluids to the patient. In most cases, you will receive IV fluids immediately after you are admitted to the hospital, unless you're a patient with high-output heart failure. Your doctor may also use vasoactive drugs in case hemodynamic instability continues after giving IV fluids.

2.        Lowering the Levels of Thyroid Hormone

It is important to take steps to decrease the levels of circulating thyroid hormone in the body. It is equally important to decrease their formation to keep things under control. Methimazole and PTU are two agents used to reduce thyroid hormone synthesis – these agents are usually prescribed in high doses to create an effect. Your doctor will also prescribe potassium iodide, sodium iodide, or Lugol's solution to help decrease the production of thyroid hormone. Beta-blockers are also used sometimes to help control the heart rate, whereas intravenous steroids are given to support the circulation.

3.        Radioactive Iodine

If you already have hyperthyroidism, you may already be receiving a treatment involving radioactive iodine that may destroy the thyroid. You may also have to take drugs to suppress the function of thyroid gland temporarily. Radioactive iodine is not a safe thyroid storm treatment option for pregnancy women with hyperthyroidism because it may be harmful for the unborn child. Surgical removal of the thyroid gland is the only treatment option in this case.

4.        Avoid Iodine

While receiving medical treatment for hyperthyroidism, it is important to stop taking iodine in food or it may lead to several complications. In case your thyroid hormone is destroyed or removed, it is important to take synthetic thyroid hormone for as long as you live.

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