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Hyperthyroidism Treatment Information
As a rule, our goal in treating hyperthyroidism is to return your hormone levels to normal, although certain mild cases might only need observation. Treatment options for hyperthyroidism include:
- Antithyroid medicine. Certain medicines, particularly methimazole, disrupt production of thyroid hormones. You take methimazole as a pill between one and three times each day. Symptoms often go away after six to 12 weeks, but you typically continue treatment for a year or more before tapering your dose. This treatment does not cause permanent damage to the gland. Some patients never experience hyperthyroidism again after taking this medicine, but others have a relapse.
- Radioactive iodine. This medicine, which is typically taken in pill form, partially or completely destroys the thyroid gland to reduce or eliminate thyroid hormone production. You typically need only one dose, which takes effect within six months. The treatment is safe in general, but pregnant women should not take it because it may damage the developing fetus. After you take radioactive iodine, you receive guidelines to avoid exposing other people to radiation. For example, you should avoid close contact with family members and keep your toilet especially clean for several days until most of the medicine clears from your system. Radioactive iodine often causes the thyroid to become underactive (hypothyroidism), so you may need hormone replacement therapy after treatment.
- Surgery. Partial or complete removal of the thyroid gland stops excess thyroid hormone production. You receive general anesthesia for this surgery, which often takes between two and four hours. The most common procedure involves a cut several inches long across the front of your neck. Lifelong hormone replacement therapy is necessary if your entire thyroid gland is removed.
- Beta blockers. These medicines control some hyperthyroidism symptoms, including rapid heartbeat and anxiety. Normally used to treat high blood pressure (hypertension), they help you feel more comfortable while waiting for other therapies to work. They do not influence hyperthyroidism directly.
- Steroids. When hyperthyroidism develops from a viral infection, corticosteroids such as prednisone can help reduce inflammation of the gland.
Hyperthyroidism Locations & Physicians
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Hyperthyroidism Support Services
Information and resources on hyperthyroidism are available from several organizations. They include:
A Sampling of Hyperthyroidism Support Services
American Thyroid Association
This professional society offers patient-friendly information on hyperthyroidism.
National Endocrine and Metabolic Diseases Information Service
This U.S. government agency provides an overview of hyperthyroidism, including its diagnosis and treatment.