Myxedema Coma (cont.)
Ruchi Mathur, MD, FRCP(C)
Ruchi Mathur, MD, FRCP(C) is an Attending Physician with the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism and Associate Director of Clinical Research, Recruitment and Phenotyping with the Center for Androgen Related Disorders, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- What is myxedema coma?
- Who is affected by myxedema coma?
- What are the symptoms of hypothyroidism?
- What causes myxedema coma?
- What are triggers of myxedema coma?
- What are the symptoms of myxedema coma?
- How is myxedema coma diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for myxedema coma?
- How can myxedema coma be prevented?
- Find a local Doctor in your town
What are triggers of myxedema coma?
Certain factors may suddenly trigger myxedema coma in a person with poorly controlled hypothyroidism. These include:
- drugs (particularly sedatives, narcotics, anesthesia, lithium (Eskalith, Lithobid), and amiodarone (Cordarone),
- heart failure,
- gastrointestinal bleeding,
- hypothermia (abnormally low body temperature), and
- failing to take thyroid medications as prescribed.
What are the symptoms of myxedema coma?
When a patient presents with myxedema coma the following may be present:
- the body temperature is usually abnormally low (hypothermia), the core temperature may be as low as 80 F (26.6 C);
- severe mental changes including hallucinations, disorientation, seizures, and ultimately, deep coma;
- significant swelling (edema) all over the body with swollen eyes and thickening of the tongue,
- sparse, dry hair, and loss of the outer thirds of the eyebrows;
- difficulty breathing;
- collections of fluid around the lungs and heart (pleural effusion and pericardial effusions);
- the heart may slow down and its ability to pump blood forward can be impaired;
- the gastrointestinal tract does not function well and sometimes it becomes paralyzed, thereby necessitating surgery; and
- blood test abnormalities are a result of the increased fluid in the body. For example, sodium levels drop because of dilution, which is caused by the body retaining extra water.
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