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Myxedema or Gull’s Disease : Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

What Is Myxedema or Gull’s Disease?

Myxedema or Gull’s Disease is a pathological condition of the thyroid gland in which there is malfunction of the thyroid gland resulting in infiltration of mucin into the subcutaneous tissue causing swelling, alopecia, loss of nails. There can also be severe mental fatigue and severe circulation problems.

Myxedema or Gull’s Disease

What Causes Myxedema or Gull’s Disease?

As stated, Myxedema or Gull’s Disease is caused due to malfunction of the thyroid gland with a reduced ability to supply secretions necessary for metabolism due to degeneration, atrophy, and subsequent inactivity of the thyroid gland. Myxedema or Gull’s Disease is found more in females than males. This disease strikes in individuals between the age of 30 and 50. Studies suggest that this disease occurs more in married females who have quite a few children. In retrospect, if a female has symptoms of Myxedema or Gull’s Disease and gets pregnant then it is seen that pregnant state can cause the symptoms to dissipate. Some studies point to a genetic link in development of Myxedema or Gull’s Disease in which the mother may transmit the disease to the offspring, especially daughters.

What Are The Symptoms of Myxedema or Gull’s Disease?

The classic presentation of Myxedema or Gull’s Disease is swelling of the face, with firm skin. The skin may become rough and dry. When pressure is applied on the skin then there is no depression created on the skin. As the disease advances there may also be presence of ascites. This swelling is not only in the face but also other parts of the body as well. There is also loss of facial expression. The affected individual will feel depressed, will not be interested in the surroundings and also feel lazy and may not participate in many activities. There will be alopecia and loss of teeth and nails. There is also a significant change in speech of the affected individual. These symptoms increase as the disease progresses and there is severe loss of control of muscles. The patient will ambulate with a broad based waddling gait. With each passing day, the metal illness will increase with the patient suddenly becoming excited and all of a sudden becoming sad and depressed.

How Is Myxedema or Gull’s Disease Diagnosed?

Myxedema or Gull’s Disease is basically confirmed just by the clinical features of this disease which is an expressionless face, swelling, alopecia, and loss of nails along with hardening of the skin. The physician may order a thyroid test to confirm whether the gland is functioning fine or not and confirm the disease.

How Is Myxedema or Gull’s Disease Treated?

As of today, there has been no treatment identified which has been found to be effective in treating Myxedema or Gull’s Disease. In some cases, thyroid gland of sheep and calves given in a raw powdered state has been found to be somewhat effective. It is usually given in a tablet form and taken once every 24 hours. In mild forms of this disease there is prompt effect. The quantity of the gland given differs from person to person where some may require less quantity and some may require a large quantity of the medicine. If this medicine is given too frequently then it may cause headaches, vomiting, vertigo, and other symptoms. In such cases, the medicine should be stopped for a while until the symptoms resolve and then started again. This is by far the only effective treatment so far for Myxedema or Gull’s Disease.

References:

  1. Merck Manual – Hypothyroidism (Myxedema) URL: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/endocrine-and-metabolic-disorders/thyroid-disorders/hypothyroidism
  2. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases – Hypothyroidism (Underactive Thyroid) URL: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/endocrine-diseases/hypothyroidism
  3. Mayo Clinic – Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) URL: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hypothyroidism/symptoms-causes/syc-20350284
  4. Cleveland Clinic – Hypothyroidism URL: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/15308-hypothyroidism
  5. American Thyroid Association – Hypothyroidism (Underactive) URL: https://www.thyroid.org/hypothyroidism/
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 28, 2023

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