Turner Syndrome Complications

With proper management, women with Turner syndrome can expect to live as long as healthy, unaffected individuals. However, whether or not a woman with Turner syndrome receives treatment for this condition, she may experience some complications that vary in severity. For example, while some of the complications associated with Turner syndrome are mild and easily treated, others pose a serious risk to a patients health.

Unfortunately, the treatments for Turner syndrome, namely hormone replacement therapy (HRT), can also have their own side effects. In general, however, most side effects of treatments can be managed with proper, regular monitoring.

Hypertension

Women with Turner syndrome are more likely than other women to develop hypertension, or high blood pressure. While unchecked hypertension can cause coronary heart disease in anyone, Turner syndrome patients are often at a higher risk for developing heart disease due to the fact that they tend to suffer from other risk factors, such as congenital heart problems.

To prevent coronary heart disease, heart attack or other potentially fatal complications, Turner syndrome patients should closely monitor and properly treat their hypertension. Common hypertension treatments include diet changes, exercise and specific medication.

Lymphedema

Lymphedema is present in about 70% of Turner Syndrome patients.Lymphedema, present in about 70 percent of Turner syndrome patients, is a condition marked a swelling of the hands and feet. The lymphatic system is responsible for circulating and filtering the bodys interstitial fluid, a fluid in the bodys cells that contains hormones, neurotransmitters and essential amino acids. However, patients suffering from lymphedema arent naturally circulating this fluiding, causing it to accumulating in the hands and feet. As lymphatic fluid gets trapped in these extremities, it causes pain and severely limits mobility and dexterity.

Lymphedema is one of the less serious, highly manageable complications associated with Turner syndrome. Common treatments for lymphedema include manual drainage, exercise and wearing compression bandages.

Aortic Dissection

Another complication associated with Turner syndrome is aortic dissection, a condition that occurs when the aorta (the major blood vessel from the heart) tears. Although aortic dissection is one of the more rare Turner syndrome side effects, it is one of the more fatal ones due to the quick loss of blood that typically accompanies tears.

However, women with Turner syndrome who also suffer from hypertension and/or coronary heart disease are at a particularly high risk of developing aortic dissection.

Other Turner Syndrome Side Effects

Along with the above mentioned complications, women with Turner syndrome can also develop the following health problems:

  • cataracts
  • coronary heart disease
  • diabetes
  • ear and hearing problems
  • infertility
  • kidney disease
  • lack of motor control
  • learning disabilities, especially with math
  • osteoporosis
  • obesity
  • thyroid problems.

Turner Syndrome Treatment Side Effects

While Turner syndrome causes health complications on its own, sadly, so too do the treatments for this condition, namely hormone (estrogen) replacement therapy (HRT). During hormone replacement therapy, women take hormones (estrogen, progesterone or both) for two weeks of each month during the course of treatment. Although HRT can successfully combat the negative side effects associated with the lack of estrogen, it does have its own complications. Health problems associated with the side effects of HRT that treats Turner syndrome include:

  • a higher risk of developing breast cancer
  • bloating
  • gall bladder problems
  • gassiness
  • headaches
  • hypertension
  • liver problems
  • nausea
  • water retention.

Talk to your doctors before starting any medications.

Resources

Developmental Disabilities: Resources for Healthcare Providers. (updated 2003) Turner syndrome.

Sybert, V. (nd). Aortic dissection and you.

University of Maryland Medicine. (October, 2001). Turner’s syndrome.