About the disease
Myxedema is a condition of advanced hypothyroidism. It is the advanced form of condition whereby the thyroid gland does not produce sufficient amount of thyroid hormone. It is produced in thyroid gland and it is responsible for regulating the metabolic processes in the body. Thyroid gland is located at the front area of the neck. This gland also controls the energy production and also regulates the energy that the person consumed with food.
If the person does not treat hypothyroidism for a long period of time or if it is left undiagnosed even though the person is having distinctive symptoms, he/she can develop severe form of this condition. In severe cases, a person can develop myxedema crisis, which is a life-threatening condition, which can lead to “myxedema coma”. If the person is having myxedema crisis, it is a medical emergency which needs to be treated as soon as possible to prevent coma, which can last for indefinite period of time.
This crisis can develop if the body can no longer tolerate the insufficiency of the thyroid hormone. If a person has myxedema crisis, he/she will notice that they have extremely low body temperature and they are also in the state of confusion or shock, that`s why it is important for relatives or anybody who is close to the person with myxedema crisis to call the ambulance as soon as possible. A person can also have breathing problems caused by low oxygen levels in the body. Seizures can occur as well. Myxedema is more common in women who are over 60 years of age.
Nonetheless, most people with hypothyroidism rarely develop myxedema. It is important to go the endocrinologist and get proper hormonal treatment to avoid complications.
- Swollen legs
- Difficulty breathing
- Confusion, dizziness
- Mental slowlinesss
- Low body temperature
- Seizure in some cases
- During a general examination, the doctor will examine skin of the person and also his/her heartbeat, breathing and blood pressure to rule out other diseases.
- A thyroid stimulating hormone tests is the best in diagnosing hypothyroidism as well as TSH and determine if they are too low or too high.
- Other hormonal tests will also check the production of T4 hormones and other hormones of the thyroid gland.
- Glucose test can be used as well to check the levels of blood sugar and determine if they are in normal range.
- A blood tests can also be used to check the count of white blood cells, red blood cells and other blood elements.
- Urinalysis is needed in some cases as well.
- Conservative treatment uses thyroid hormone replacement therapy , especially if there is suspicion of myxedema crisis. The patient will receive the hormone intravenously and after the treatment special hormonal treatment will be prescribed to restore the hormonal balance and prevent recurrent myxedema.