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BROWN: Thyroid storm condition can be successfully treated

An unpredictable storm is coming. A thyroid storm is an unexpected condition and is like a roller coaster. A thyroid storm, also called thyroid crisis, is like a roller coaster. Other names are thyrotoxic storm or hyperthyroid storm.

The reason I know, is because I experienced this condition myself. My symptoms were fast heart rate, high blood pressure, hyperactivity and anxiety. It was pretty surreal. The condition required hospitalization for treatment of the crisis and I have made a full recovery since.

A thyroid storm is when the thyroid gland makes or releases too much thyroid hormones. Not skipping and taking medication daily for hyperthyroidism helps to maintain the thyroid levels that can ultimately help prevent a thyroid storm.

So, let me tell you a little bit about the thyroid. The thyroid gland is located in front of the neck below the skin and muscles. The gland is shaped like a butterfly with the left and right shaped wings wrapped around the trachea. The thyroid gland makes hormones that affects the body's metabolism.

The pituitary gland, located at the base of the brain and the size of a pea, produces thyroid stimulating hormone. TSH tells the thyroid gland to produce and release thyroid hormones into the blood. There are some common thyroid problems that can affect the production of release of the thyroid hormones into the blood.

Some of the common thyroid problems are goiters -- or enlarged thyroid gland -- thyroid cancer, solitary thyroid nodules, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism and thyroidits. When the thyroid is overactive and there is too much thryoid hormone it can lead to thyroid storm according to the National Institute of Health. Other causes of a thyroid storm can be brought on by stress, such as trauma, heart attack or infection.

Some of the symptoms of a thyroid storm are agitation, change in consciousness, confusion, diarrhea, increased temperature, pounding heart rate, possible irregular heart rate, restlessness, shaking and sweating. The condition is an emergency.

The hormones, T3 (Triodothyronine) and T4 (Thyroxine) produced by the thyroid gland are checked to determine the levels of the thyroid hormones circulating in the body. Normal levels for T3 or 100-200 and normal levels for T4 are 45-11.2 mcg/dl. High levels can indicate the thyroid is overactive.

Treatment for thyroid storm is supportive measures: antiadrenergic drugs, such as, Propanolol which decreases the blood pressure; thionamides, antithyroid medication to block hormones; iodine to block release of thyroid hormones in systems; glucocorticoid to prevent further thyroid hormone; bile acid sequestrants to prevent the absorption of TSH in the gasterointestinal system. Iodine administration blocks release of the THS and can reduce the thyroid gland, therefore reducing the risk for thyroid storm significantly.

In addition, a thyroidectomy removing the thyroid gland during surgery can be accomplished if deemed necessary by the treating physician. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, go to the nearest emergency room or call 911 immediately. For more information regarding the thyroid storm, visit the National Library of Medicine and National Institute of Health website at www.nlm.nih.gov.

Dairlyn Brown is a nurse in Warner Robins.

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