FAQ - Myxedema
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What's the difference between the diseases myxedema and cretinism?

Hi Hannah.


Myxedema coma is a loss of brain function as a result of severe, longstanding low level of thyroid hormone in the blood (hypothyroidism). Myxedema coma is considered a life-threatening complication of hypothyroidism and represents the far more serious side of the spectrum of thyroid disease.


Myxedema coma is not common, but tends to be seen more frequently in elderly patients and in women. There is an increased incidence in the winter months, which is likely secondary to the extremes in temperature. Myxedema coma can actually result in death. Fortunately, the condition is rare.


Before a patient develops myxedema coma, features of hypothyroidism are usually present and may have gone unsuspected for a long period of time.

These symptoms include:
• fatigue,
• lethargy,
• mental impairment,
• depression,
• cold intolerance,
• hoarseness,
• dry skin,
• weight gain,
• change in menstrual cycles,
• constipation, and
• headaches.


Cretinism is a medical condition caused by an untreated congenital thyroid hormone deficiency. This result of hypothyroidism leads to mildly to extremely stunted growth, both mentally and physically.

Cretinism may be said to be either endemic, genetic or sporadic. A main cause, especially in endemic cases, is iodine deficiency, which may be traced back to the diet. Along with cretinism, an iodine deficiency may lead to goiter, which is an enlarged thyroid gland.


• Abdomen which sticks out
• Delayed bone maturation
• Delayed puberty
• Infertility
• Neurological impairment
• Ovulation interference
• Poor growth (height)
• Thickened skin

Take Care. Regards.  (+ info)

Is an enlarged heart due to myxedema reversible? When to see the doctor, if you have all the symptoms?

How do you know you have an enlarged heart? What symptoms are you experiencing? In some cases of myxedema, the heart tissue is affected, but this would not be as apparent as other symptoms of myxedema that primarily affect the skin. I'm not quite sure from your question if you currently are experiencing myxedema and believe you have an enlarged heart or if you previously experienced myxedema and now believe (or know) you have an enlarged heart. Either way, myxedema's effects on the heart can be serious and can affect blood flow to heart muscle through the coronary arterties, so if you are having problems with your heart, you definitely should see a doctor as soon as possible, especially if your overall health is currently poor and/or noticeably worsening.

To answer your first question, my understanding of heart damage caused by myxedema is that it is generally reversible if treated early enough, but in time, heart muscle damage will occur. When heart muscle dies (whether caused by myxedema or a bad diet), it forms scar tissue and will no longer be working heart muscle. If too much heart muscle tissue dies, there won't be enough working heart muscle left to effectively pump blood throughout the body.

I hope whatever effects myxedema has caused your heart to suffer are minor if not non-existent. In any case, since you believe your heart has been negatively affected, you should at least see your primary care physician, who could refer you to a heart specialist if he/she believes that you do indeed have heart issues that require further attention.  (+ info)

If Hypothyroidism is untreated, can myxedema coma occur for definate?

I was diagnosed with Under-active thyroid (Hypothyroidism) at birth and was told that if I failed to take my pills everyday as a child I would get brain damage, but when i was 16yrs old I stopped taking my pills and now I'm 19yrs old I've heard that I may not get brain damage now but could slip into a Myxedema Coma....Is this true and how serious is this condition?

If your thyroid is under-active failing to take your levothyroxine is indeed both dangerous and stupid.

Your skin will thicken, your hair will become course, dry and thin. You will become more and more cold, tired and slow, with a slow heart rate. You may also develop a swelling or goitre in your neck. Heart failure and coma are possible fatal complications, but they are very rare.  (+ info)

Are the symptoms of myxedema reversible?

Myxoedema is a condition due to an underactive thyroid with low levels of thyroid hormone. It has a number of symptoms such as weight gain, tiredness, coarse and dry skin and hair, heart problems etc.
When given appropriate treatment - thyroid hormone substitution, the symptoms should be well controlled and disappear completely.  (+ info)

Why are people swollen in myxedema or hypothyroidism?

what gives them the edema??

Hypothyroidism is the disease state in humans and in animals caused by insufficient production of thyroid hormone by the thyroid gland. Cretinism is a form of hypothyroidism found in infants.

Edema formerly known as dropsy or hydropsy, is an abnormal accumulation of fluid beneath the skin, or in one or more cavities of the body. Generally, the amount of interstitial fluid is determined by the balance of fluid homeostasis, and increased secretion of fluid into the interstitium or impaired removal of this fluid may cause oedema.

Edema will occur in specific organs as part of inflammation, as in pharyngitis, tendonitis or pancreatitis, for instance. Certain organs develop edema through tissue specific mechanisms. Examples of edema in specific organs:

Cerebral edema is extracellular fluid accumulation in the brain. It can occur in toxic or abnormal metabolic states and conditions such as systemic lupus. It causes drowsiness or loss of consciousness.
Pulmonary edema occurs when the pressure in blood vessels in the lung is raised because of obstruction to removal of blood via the pulmonary veins. This is usually due to failure of the left ventricle of the heart. It can also occur in altitude sickness or on inhalation of toxic chemicals. Pulmonary edema produces shortness of breath. Pleural effusions may occur when fluid also accumulates in the pleural cavity.
Edema may also be found in the cornea of the eye with glaucoma, severe conjunctivitis or keratitis or after surgery. It may produce coloured haloes around bright lights.

Five factors can contribute to the formation of edema. It may be facilitated by increased hydrostatic pressure or reduced oncotic pressure within blood vessels, increased blood vessel wall permeability as in inflammation, obstruction of fluid clearance via the lymphatic or changes in the water retaining properties of the tissues themselves. Raised hydrostatic pressure often reflects retention of water and sodium by the kidney  (+ info)

Myxedema. What can be told to the patient about this condition?

First, avoid it at all costs. Get to the hospital immediately and get help if you have it. You don't have a very long window to get help. You will quickly be subdued into inaction, and you will be unable to get help for yourself.  (+ info)

what can happen to you if you have myxedema?

Myxedema is fluid accumulation in both of your legs commonly related to low thyroid galnd activity or sometimes low albumin (a protein) in the blood! When seating elevate your feet and take thyroid medication if it is the case. See a doc!  (+ info)

what is myxedema?

Myxedema, a condition that causes swelling of tissues, increased fluid around the heart and lungs, slowed muscle reflexes, and a slowed ability to think.
Myxedema coma, a rare, life-threatening condition. This can occur if you have had hypothyroidism for many years that becomes markedly worse. It usually occurs when older adults who have severe hypothyroidism become ill with another condition, suffer from cold exposure, or take painkillers or sleeping pills. Symptoms include mental deterioration, such as apathy, confusion, and psychosis. You may lose consciousness (coma) and may have an extremely low body temperature (hypothermia), slow heartbeat (fewer than 60 beats per minute), heart failure, and difficulty breathing.  (+ info)

What endocrine gland is involved in the clinical condition know as Myxedema?

Myxedema stemming from both hyperthyroid and hypothyroid conditions, results from the accumulation of increased amounts of hyaluronic acid and chondroitin sulfate in the dermis in both lesional and normal skin. The mechanism that causes myxedema is still not yet understood, although animal model studies suggest that thyroid hormones affect the synthesis and catabolism of mucopolysaccharides and collagen by dermal fibroblasts. The fibroblasts in the orbital and pretibial dermis share antigenic sites that underlie the autoimmune process that causes Grave's disease. This cross-reaction may contribute to the development of myxedema long after normal levels of thyroid hormones have been restored by treatment.  (+ info)

How concerned should I be of progressing into Myxedema Coma?

I am a 51 y.o. male just diagnosed with hypothyroidism last Dec. At that time, I was informed that I had probably had the condition my entire life. Due to a pharmacy error, I have been without my Synthroid for 1 week now, and will not be receiving it til at least 2 days from now by mail. I am beginning to become somewhat symptomatic (fatigue, muscle aches and joint stiffness, mild hair loss, periorbital puffiness, paresthesia in my arms and hands, light headedness, and occasional angina).
Since I have been out of my synthroid, the only thing I have been able to do is to make sure that my electrolyte (Na+, K+, Cl-, and bicarb) levels do not bottom out.
Aziz answered that if I take my meds as directed, not to worry. The problem is that He/she obviously did not read exactly what I wrote. I am WITHOUT my Synthroid!!!!!

if u take your medication properly there is no need of worry.  (+ info)

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