Peter Hibberd, M.D., is a doctor whose advice is based on more than 28 years of hospital outpatient and inpatient experience. He is an experienced emergency medicine physician, surgeon, and consultant. Dr. Hibberd is certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine. He is also a fellow and active member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, an active member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, and a member and fellow of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Hibberd has earned numerous national and international professional certifications, memberships, and awards.

Can Hyperthyroidism Cause Shortness Of Breath?

Friday, 16 July 2010 10:14 AM

Question: Can hyperthyroidism cause shortness of breath?

Dr. Hibberd's Answer:

When uncontrolled, hyperthyroidism can cause shortness of breath. A severe form of hyperthyroidism, called a "thyroid storm" is a medical emergency and can actually cause sudden death, often from tachyarrythmias (various rapid heart rates). Hyperthyroidism will often cause rapid heart rates and even arrythmias (irregular heart rhythms). These rapid heart rates are usually perceived as shortness of breath. In patients with impaired circulation to the heart muscle, tachyarrythmias can generate overt heart failure, myocardial infarction, and collapse.

If you develop shortness of breath with hyperthyroidism, seek immediate medical attention, preferably in the Emergency Department of a nearby hospital. Sometimes the medications we use to control rapid heart rates and tremor in hyperthyroidism may precipitate wheezing in smokers and those prone to asthma, and urgent evaluation would be prudent.

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