Overactive Thyroid Treatment

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The thyroid is a gland that controls hormone production. Thyroid functions including producing thyroxine (a thyroid hormone that regulates your metabolism), controlling the production of sweat and mood stabilization. An overactive thyroid, called hyperthyroidism, can result in excessive sweating, sudden and dramatic weight loss, an irregular heartbeat or nervousness. Treatments include surgery, medical therapy and radioactive iodine.

  1. Radioactive Iodine

    • According to NetWellness, doctors have been treating hyperthyroidism with radioactive iodine since the 1940s. When taken orally, iodine is absorbed by the thyroid gland. Over time, the iodine affects the thyroid cells and causes them to shrink. It can take between three and six months for the gland to shrink enough to minimize symptoms. The iodine can sometimes shrink the gland so much that you will need medication to provide you with thyroxine since the thyroid will become under-producing. Excess iodine is removed from the body through urination and there are usually few side effects; however patients with Graves disease can sometimes experience a buildup of pressure behind the eyes.

    Medication

    • There are two major types of medications used to treat hyperthyroidism. Beta blockers are sometimes used to resolve symptoms associated with hyperthyroidism, such as an irregular heartbeat. Anti-thyroid medications are also taken to reduce the amount of thyroxine produced by the thyroid. These medications, which include methimazole and propylthiouracil, usually take between six and 12 weeks to begin working. You may have to take the medication for at least a year, and you may experience a relapse when you discontinue taking the drugs. Rare side effects include liver problems and problems with the white blood cells.

    Surgery

    • In some cases, a thyroidectomy, or thyroid removal, is used to treat hyperthyroidism. This surgery can cause permanent damage to your voicebox or vocal cords in rare cases. Nearby glands, called parathyroid glands, may also be damaged by the surgery; these glands produce calcium so you may need to take a calcium supplement if the glands are damaged. You will also need to be on thyroid medication to produce thyroxine, in most cases for the rest of your life.

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