thyroid gland photo

What is a Thyroid Storm?

Thyroid-Related Emergencies

Your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in your neck that secretes hormones responsible for regulating your metabolism, body temperature, and growth and development. There are a number of autoimmune conditions related to your thyroid that can create a ripple effect for your health.

Most commonly, patients experience hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. A rare condition called a thyroid storm or a thyroid crisis related to hyperthyroidism can create emergency symptoms for patients. Here’s what you should know:

What is Hyperthyroidism?

Hyperthyroidism occurs when a patient has an overactive thyroid — meaning that they have excessive thyroid hormone production. Most commonly, this condition is most often caused by Graves disease or an overactive thyroid nodule. Graves disease is another autoimmune disorder where your immune system attacks your thyroid resulting in overproduction of thyroid hormones.

Risk Factors for Hyperthyroidism

Patients that are more likely to develop hyperthyroidism include:

  • Being female.
  • Being over age 60.
  • Recent pregnancy.
  • Having an autoimmune disease (such as type 1 diabetes)
  • Family history of thyroid disease or autoimmune disease.
  • Personal history of thyroid problems, like goiter or having had thyroid surgery.

If you do have one or more risk factors for hyperthyroidism, you should seek treatment from your primary care physician as soon as possible. For regular maintenance, you may be referred to an endocrine specialist who can regulate your levels and update your medication if needed.

Thyroid Crisis Causes and Symptoms

Thyroid storms affects roughly between 5.7 and 7.6 per one million people. Patients who experience a thyroid crisis experience rapid heartbeat, fever, and even fainting. Additional symptoms may include:

  • Vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Confusion.
  • Unconsciousness.

A thyroid storm (or crisis) most commonly occurs due to major stress such as trauma, heart attack, or infection in people with uncontrolled hyperthyroidism. In rare cases, thyroid storms can be caused by the treatment of hyperthyroidism. In some cases, this condition can also be caused by:

  • Pregnancy.
  • Infection.
  • Improper thyroid dosage.
  • Surgery.
  • Toxic multinodular goiter.
  • Damage to the thyroid gland.

Thyroid storms can lead to long-lasting symptoms such as heart failure and fluid in the lungs. It can be life-threatening in around 10–25 percent of people with the condition. If you experience any symptoms of a thyroid storm, you should dial 911 and visit an emergency room immediately.

Emergency Medical Services in Arlington

At PrimeCare Emergency Center, our staff is committed to providing you with attentive and compassionate care. We find ourselves obliged to provide our patients with the utmost instant medical care and obtain medical information to the quickest of our ability, and thus we provide additional in-house services and testing for a more patient-catered treatment. Our facility is fully equipped with the most updated medical technology attainable to ensure concise and rapid results.

If you feel that you are experiencing a medical emergency, dial 911 and stop into our emergency clinic. You can also call our front desk with any questions at: (682) 253-6655