Podcast # 428: Severe Hypothyroidism - The Emergency Medical Minute

Podcast # 428: Severe Hypothyroidism

Author: Gretchen Hinson, MD

Educational Pearls:

  • Clinical manifestations of severe hypothyroidism may include:
    • Pale, cool, diaphoretic skin
    • Myxedema is the non-pitting edema seen in hypothyroidism
    • Hypothermia, heart failure, hypotension and shock
    • Shortness of breath
    • Cholestasis, constipation
    • Encephalopathy and coma


Mortality is 30-50%

Specific treatment includes thyroid hormone (T3, T4, or both) and glucocorticoids (for potential adrenal insufficiency)



Kwaku MP, Burman KD. Myxedema coma. J Intensive Care Med. 2007 Jul-Aug;22(4):224-31. Review. PubMed PMID: 17712058.

Ono Y, Ono S, Yasunaga H, Matsui H, Fushimi K, Tanaka Y. Clinical characteristics and outcomes of myxedema coma: Analysis of a national inpatient database in Japan. J Epidemiol. 2017 Mar;27(3):117-122. doi: 10.1016/j.je.2016.04.002. Epub 2017 Jan 5. PubMed PMID: 28142035; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5350620.

Lee CH, Wira CR. Severe angioedema in myxedema coma: a difficult airway in a rare endocrine emergency. Am J Emerg Med. 2009 Oct;27(8):1021.e1-2. doi: 10.1016/j.ajem.2008.12.027. PubMed PMID: 19857436.

Summarized by Travis Barlock, MS4 | Edited by Erik Verzemnieks, MD

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