Treatment for hyperthyroidism


For patients suffering from a severe form of hyperthyroidism, such as Graves’ disease or toxic multinodular goiter, mainly use antithyroid drugs which have a real effect in modifying the quantity of hormone secreted by the thyroid gland. These drugs are very effective, with positive results from the early weeks. However, side effects can be observed, such as rashes, itching, and fever.

In rare cases these drugs can cause liver conditions and can cause a deficiency of white cells in the patient’s blood. Therefore, patients who are receiving such treatment must be careful regarding symptoms such as yellowing of the skin, temperature or acute pain in the neck and immediately notify their health care provider to change the treatment. The main disadvantage of these drugs is that after the treatment is stopped, the disease often returns. Therefore patients suffering from hyperthyroidism are advised to take their treatment permanently.

Treatment with radioactive iodine

Radioactive iodine is the most often recommended product if hyperthyroidism should be treated permanently. This treatment has the advantage that thyroid cells are the only cells in the body able to absorb iodine. In fact, this is the specificity of thyroid hormone. By administrating radioactive iodine, thyroid cells which absorb it will die. Because iodine is not absorbed by any other cell in the body, side effects are not likely to appear. Most patients are cured after a single dose of radioactive iodine. The only adverse effect that may occur is that after treatment the thyroid gland begins to produce an insufficient quantity of hormones. In this case, the issue is that radioactive iodine kills too many cells and the remaining thyroid cells cannot produce enough hormones. This turns into a new condition called hypothyroidism. Until now, there is no evidence that the administration of radioactive iodine can cause thyroid cancer or other types of cancer or affect fertility.

Surgical extraction of the gland or nodule

One way to permanently cure hyperthyroidism is surgical removal of part of the thyroid gland, or the whole gland. However, this method is not widely used because the above methods give the best results in most cases. Although there are patients with Graves disease who require surgery to remove the thyroid gland (because they do not tolerate the recommended drugs or refuse radioactive iodine), other forms of hyperthyroidism can be easily treated with medication. Problems with the period of hospitalization following such surgery have been removed in recent years because patients are often discharged the day after surgery. This depends of course on the evolution of the patient’s general health, age, etc.. A potential disadvantage of these methods is a minor risk that during the operation to affect other structures in the neck. But this incidence is 1%. Like in treatment with radioactive iodine, following this procedure patients may suffer from hypothyroidism.

When after a treatment of any kind to treat hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism is installed the disease is easily diagnosed and treated with appropriate drugs without any adverse effects.

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