How is hyperthyroidism treated?
There are several treatments for hyperthyroidism. Your doctor will choose an appropriate treatment based on your age, your physical condition, the cause of your hyperthyroidism and how severe your condition is.
- Radioactive iodine. Radioactive iodine is taken by mouth. It gets into the blood stream and is absorbed by overactive thyroid cells. Radioactive iodine causes the level of thyroid hormone in the body to decrease. Symptoms usually subside in 3 to 6 months. Permanent low thyroid activity (hypothyroidism) usually is the final result, but this can be treated with thyroid supplements. Despite concerns about radioactive material, this treatment has been used for more than 60 years without causing any problems. Most adults in the United States who develop hyperthyroidism are treated with radioactive iodine.
- Anti-thyroid medicine. These drugs treat hyperthyroidism by blocking the thyroid's ability to produce hormones. Symptoms begin to improve in 6 to 12 weeks but treatment usually continues for at least a year.
- Surgery. Hyperthyroidism can be treated with a surgery (called a thyroidectomy) in which your doctor removes most of your thyroid gland. After surgery, you will likely develop hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid disease). You will then need to take a thyroid hormone supplement to restore your hormone levels to normal.
- Beta blockers. No matter what other method of treatment you use, your physician may prescribe a beta blocker drug to slow your heart rate and reduce palpitations, shaking and nervousness until your thyroid levels are closer to normal.
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff