Any acute, severe illness can cause abnormalities of circulating thyroid hormone levels or TSH, even in the absence of underlying thyroid disease. Therefore, the routine testing of thyroid function should be avoided in acutely ill pts unless a thyroid disorder is strongly suspected. The most common pattern in sick euthyroid syndrome is a decrease in total and free T3 levels, with normal levels of TSH and T4. This is considered an adaptive response to a catabolic state. More ill pts may additionally have a fall in total T4 levels, with normal free T4 levels. TSH levels may range from <0.1 to >20 mU/L, with normalization after recovery from illness. The pathogenesis of this condition is not fully understood but may involve altered binding of T4 to TBG and effects of high glucocorticoid and cytokine levels. Unless there is historic or unequivocal clinical evidence of hypothyroidism, thyroid hormone should not be administered and thyroid function tests should be repeated after recovery.

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