Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Font Size

Myxedema Coma

Myxedema Coma Overview

The thyroid gland, located at the front part of the neck, is responsible for making substances called thyroid hormones that are important for all body cells to work properly.

In certain conditions, the thyroid becomes underactive and produces fewer amounts of its hormones, a situation called hypothyroidism. People with hypothyroidism have problems that reflect underactivity of the organs of the body, resulting in symptoms such as fatigue, feeling cold, weight gain, dry skin, and sleepiness. When the levels of thyroid hormones become very low, the symptoms get worse and can result in a serious condition called myxedema coma. Myxedema coma is a rare but life-threatening condition. People with hypothyroidism who are in or near a coma should be taken to an emergency department immediately.

Recommended Related to Women

Understanding Graves' Disease -- the Basics

First described by Sir Robert Graves in the early 19th century, Graves' disease is one of the most common of all thyroid problems. It is also the leading cause of hyperthyroidism, a condition in which the thyroid gland produces excessive hormones. Once the disorder has been correctly diagnosed, it is quite easy to treat. In some cases, Graves' disease goes into remission or disappears completely after several months or years. Left untreated, however, it can lead to serious complications -- even...

Read the Understanding Graves' Disease -- the Basics article > >

Myxedema Coma Causes

If you have hypothyroidism, then any of the following can contribute to myxedema coma:

Myxedema Coma Symptoms

Symptoms of hypothyroidism may include the following:

People who have myxedema coma are in or near a coma and not able to function normally. They require emergency care.

When to Seek Medical Care

People who have hypothyroidism and develop fever, changes in behavior or mental status, shortness of breath, or increased swelling of the hands and feet should be taken to an emergency department.

Exams and Tests

  • Blood tests are performed to check blood cell count, electrolytes, sugar, and thyroid hormone levels. Tests are also performed to evaluate how the liver and adrenal glands are functioning.

  • Blood gases are evaluated to check for oxygen and carbon dioxide levels.

  • An ECG of the heart is performed to check for disturbances in the activity of the heart.

  • Additional tests are performed at the discretion of the treating doctor.

Myxedema Coma Treatment Self-Care at Home

If you have hypothyroidism, be alert to your condition.

  • Call your doctor if you are concerned.

  • Check your blood sugar level if you are diabetic.

  • Warm yourself up with a warm blanket and seek help.

  • Take your prescribed thyroid medication if you missed them earlier.

People with myxedema coma are in a coma or nearly in a coma. They are not able to function normally. Friends or family members should take them to an emergency department immediately. Friends or family members should not give the person in myxedema coma any thyroid medication before taking him or her to the emergency department. If adrenal insufficiency is present, then administration of thyroxin (in the thyroid medication) will provoke an adrenal crisis.

Hot Topics

WebMD Video: Now Playing

Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Popular Slideshows & Tools on WebMD

disciplining a boy
Types, symptoms, causes.
Remember your finger
Are You Getting More Forgetful?
fruit drinks
Eat these to think better.
No gym workout
Moves to help control blood sugar.
acupuncture needle on shoulder
10 tips to look and feel good.
Close up of eye
12 reasons you're distracted.
birth control pills
Which kind is right for you?
embarrassed woman
Do you feel guilty after eating?
Epinephrine Injection using Auto-Injector Syringe
Life-threatening triggers.
woman biting a big ice cube
Habits that wreck your teeth.
pacemaker next to xray
Treatment options.
caregiver with parent
10 tips for daily life.

Pollen counts, treatment tips, and more.

It's nothing to sneeze at.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.


Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Women's Health Newsletter

Find out what women really need.