Several treatments19 exist for hyperthyroidism. The right approach to take will depend on your age, physical condition, the underlying cause of the hyperthyroidism, your personal preference, and the severity of your condition.
Once you begin treatment, the symptoms of hyperthyroidism should subside and you should start feeling much better. Possible treatments include:
- Anti-thyroid medications: These medications help to gradually alleviate the symptoms of hyperthyroidism. They work by preventing your thyroid from producing excess amounts of hormones. They include methimazole (generic Tapazole) and propylthiouracil.
Symptoms usually begin to improve within several weeks to months of beginning treatment with anti-thyroid medication. However, treatment with these medications typically continues for at least a year (and often longer).
For some people, anti-thyroid medications clear up the problem permanently. However, others may experience a relapse of hyperthyroidism.
- Radioactive iodine: Radioactive iodine is taken orally. It is absorbed by your thyroid and causes the gland to shrink. This treatment usually helps to relieve symptoms within several months. Excess radioactive iodine disappears from the body within weeks to months.
In some cases, radioactive iodine treatment causes thyroid activity to slow enough to be considered underactive (hypothyroidism). If this occurs, you may eventually need to take daily medication to replace thyroid hormones.
- Beta blockers: Beta blockers are usually used to treat high blood pressure. While they don't affect thyroid levels, they can ease symptoms of hyperthyroidism, such as tremors, rapid heart rate, and palpitations. Your provider may prescribe beta blockers to help you feel better until your thyroid levels are closer to normal.
- Surgery (thyroidectomy): In a thyroidectomy, your provider removes most of your thyroid (near-total thyroidectomy) or all of your thyroid (total thyroidectomy). If you're pregnant or if you can't tolerate anti-thyroid drugs, you may be a candidate for thyroid surgery, although this is generally a last-resort treatment option.
After a thyroidectomy, you'll need lifelong treatment with levothyroxine (generic Levoxyl, Synthroid, others) to supply your body with normal amounts of thyroid hormone. If your parathyroid glands are also removed, you'll need medication to keep your blood calcium levels normal.
Coping and support
If you've been diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, it’s important that you follow all medical advice and take medications as prescribed. After you and your provider have decided on your treatment, you may want to take some steps to help you cope with the condition and support your body during its healing process.
Getting regular exercise will help you feel better in general and helps improve your cardiovascular system. Weight-bearing exercise is particularly important for people with Graves' disease, as it helps maintain bone density. Exercise also can help reduce appetite and increase energy levels.
You can also practice various relaxation techniques to help you maintain a positive outlook, especially when coping with an illness like hyperthyroidism. Stress is a well-documented risk factor for Graves’ disease, so setting aside time to relax can help you maintain physical and mental well-being.
Your provider may prescribe the following medications for hyperthyroidism:
May be prescribed
Your provider may recommend that you watch out for iodine in your diet. People with hyperthyroidism may be sensitive20 to the harmful side effects of iodine—it can worsen the symptoms of (or even cause) the condition.
If you have Graves’ disease, you should discuss your diet with your healthcare provider. They can advise you on what foods you should limit or avoid. You may also be prescribed a diet low in iodine21 to make an upcoming radioactive iodine therapy more effective.
Some foods with high iodine content (those which you may have to avoid) include iodized salt, grains and cereals, bread, wild-caught fish, shellfish, seaweed, beef, poultry, pudding mixes, milk, and dairy products.
You should take special care to let your healthcare provider know if you take any iodine supplements, as well as cough syrups or multivitamins—these may contain iodine.
Mild signs and symptoms of Graves' ophthalmopathy (thyroid eye disease) can be managed with careful monitoring and over-the-counter treatments. You may benefit from using artificial tears during the day and lubricating gels at night. Avoiding wind and bright lights can also help prevent excess dryness and irritation.
If your thyroid eye disease symptoms are more severe, your provider may recommend treatment with corticosteroids, such as prednisone, to reduce swelling behind your eyeballs.
Lifestyle and home remedies for Graves’ ophthalmopathy
If you have Graves' ophthalmopathy or dermopathy, the following suggestions may help improve your eyes or skin:
- Don't smoke: Smoking has been linked to the development of Graves' ophthalmopathy and can make the condition worse after treatment.
- Keep your eyes lubricated: Using eye drops during the day may help relieve dryness and irritation. You can use a lubricating gel at bedtime to keep the cornea from drying out. A cool compress can also provide relieving moisture.
- Protect your eyes: Wearing sunglasses can help you deal with the light sensitivity common to people with Graves’ ophthalmopathy. Some special lenses may also help reduce double vision (diplopia).
- Keep your head up: Elevating the head of your bed may reduce swelling and relieve pressure on your eyes.
- Over-the-counter creams for swollen skin: Over-the-counter creams containing hydrocortisone (generic Cortizone-10, others) may help relieve red, swollen skin on your shins and feet.
Disclaimer: The information on this site is generalized and is not medical advice. It is intended to supplement, not substitute for, the expertise and judgment of your healthcare professional. Always seek the advice of your healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard seeking advice or delay in seeking treatment because of something you have read on our site. RxSaver makes no warranty as to the accuracy, reliability or completeness of this information.
If you are in crisis or you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.References