The use of dexamethasone for thyroid storm
Thyroid storm is a condition that can sometimes be life-threatening, it occurs in people who have been diagnosed with hyperthyroidism. A thyroid system is when the thyroid gland starts releasing extensive amounts of thyroid hormone in a small amount of time. When a thyroid storm happens it is crucial for the person to seek emergency medical assistance.
Once the person is under medical attention the drug dexamethasone is given to a patient and from there the person’s cortisol levels are measured. The cortisol levels are supposed to drop after being administered dexamethasone. There are two different types of tests that can be conducted on patients, depending on the cortisol levels a patient will be given either a low or high-dose test. Both test can be performed either overnight or in a standard 3-day course.
The test is only conducted when overproduction of cortisol is suspected. The low-dose test is usually used to separate the people who healthy produce cortisol from the ones that produce too much. The high-dose test is given to figure out if the problem is abnormally in the pituitary gland, which then means the person could be suffering from Cushing’s Disease.
The adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) is a hormone that is produced by the pituitary gland and it is controlled by the body’s cortisone levels, the adrenal cortex needs ACTH to produce cortisol. If cortisol levels are too high then ACTH is restrained and vice versa. Dexamethasone is a steroid that is similar to cortisol that can suppress ATCH production in the normal person. Therefore, it is used to reduce ACTH and ultimately reduces cortisol in those who are suffering with the thyroid storm condition.
Those who have pituitary glands that overproduce ACTH will have an uncommon response to a low-dose test, but the high-dose test will be normal. If the result on the low-dose test comes back and it is not normal then cortisol production is abnormal and is probably due to Cushing’s syndrome. The high-dose test is to determine what the condition is being caused by or in relation to. In the event of thyroid storm the doctors will use dexamethasone as a synthetic form of cortisol to figure out what is going on with the body and whether or not it is the fault of the pituitary gland.
Just like any other drug dexamethasone has its risks of fainting or infection. When being given the test you may feel the needle and slight throbbing from the spot where you were pricked. However, thyroid storm develops most often in someone who has a severe health issue on top of hyperthyroidism. No matter the reasoning thyroid storm is a condition that needs medical attention as soon as possible.
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