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What are the Different Types of Overactive Thyroid Treatment?

By Sandy Baker
Updated May 17, 2024
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Overactive thyroid treatment may include drug treatments using thionamides, ablation of the thyroid gland using radioactive iodine, or surgical removal of all or part of the thyroid. Hyperthyroidism, often called an overactive thyroid, occurs when the thyroid gland produces too much thyroxine hormone. The treatment of the condition involves producers and medications to reduce the production of this hormone. If left untreated, an overactive thyroid can lead to an irregular heartbeat, irritability, and sudden weight gain.

Doctors often start overactive thyroid treatment with medications, called antithyroid medications. These slow the production of thyroxine and gradually reduce symptoms. Common antithyroid drugs include propylthiouracil and methimazole. This type of overactive thyroid treatment usually lasts for a year or longer, depending on the needs of the patient. Risks, such as liver damage, may occur.

A second common overactive thyroid treatment is the use of radioactive iodine. The medication is taken orally and absorbed by the thyroid gland. It shrinks the gland and reduces symptoms. The process takes three to six months, but some people may need to take medication daily for the rest of their lives if the gland stops producing thyroxine completely.

Another type of treatment for overactive thyroid is the use of beta blockers, which are commonly used as a high blood pressure treatment. Beta blockers will not reduce the thyroid's function, but can slow a rapid heartbeat and reduce the risk of palpitations. Doctors prescribe it alongside other overactive thyroid treatments to prevent complications.

In some people, a surgical procedure called a thyroidectomy is necessary, especially if the patient is unable to tolerate antithyroid medications. This procedure removes most of the thyroid gland tissue. If this procedure is performed, the patient will need to take levothrozine throughout the rest of his life to supply the body with a normal level of the hormone. Some patients will need medications to maintain proper blood calcium levels as well.

Some people may benefit from lifestyle changes as a treatment for overactive thyroid. Dietary supplementation may be helpful, especially if a person has lost a significant amount of weight due to the condition. Consuming enough vitamin D and calcium is also important. For those with Graves' disease, a common from of hyperthyroidism that can affect the eyes, applying cool compresses, wearing sunglasses, and using lubricating eye drops can relieve symptoms. Patients should discuss other lifestyle changes to improve the symptoms of this condition as part of overactive thyroid treatment.

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