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Treating Hyperthyroidism

hyperthyroid symptoms illustrating goiter and bulging of the eyesHyperthyroidism is a hormonal imbalance caused by an overactive thyroid gland that most often leads to weight loss, insomnia, restlessness, or rapid pulse. Outward physical also usually include trembling hands, bulging eyes, and visible swelling of the thyroid gland resulting in a goiter, or bulging in the neck.

The latter symptoms usually are seen in the most severe form of the condition, known as Graves' disease, named for Irish physician Robert Graves who first described common symptoms in 1835.

Today, Graves' disease can be treated in several ways.

The most common and most successful therapy in the U.S. is treatment with radioactive iodine, which is ingested in either liquid or pill form to basically shut down the thyroid. The patient is then put on a course of thyroid medication (levothyroxine) that they must take for the rest of their lives.

Antithyroid drugs such as Tapazole and PTU are also sometimes prescribed. This course of the therapy can extend over several years. If successful, it maintains the integrity of the thyroid gland while bringing about a complete remission of the disease. However, outcomes may be less successful with antithyroid drugs with reported cures ranging anywhere from 30 to 50 percent.

Surgery (subtotal thyroidectomy) is also an option, in which the diseased parts of the thyroid gland are cut away. However, this treatment also requires patients to remain on thyroid medication for the rest of the lives. Surgery may also involve risks, such as damage to nearby parathyroid glands or vocal cords. Since surgery is also typically more painful and almost always results in scarring, radioactive iodine is usually the preferred choice.

However, all options should be thoroughly discussed with your doctor before undergoing any treatment for hyperthyroidism.

More about hyperthyroidism and graves disease around the Web:

Graves' Disease fact sheet

Hyperthyroidism: Signs, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Causes and Treatments

Hyperthyroidism - Wikipedia


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