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Hyperthyroidism Treatment

Beta Blockers
Healthcare providers may prescribe beta blocker medicines, such as atenolol (Tenormin®), to decrease overactive thyroid symptoms until other treatments take effect. These drugs act quickly to relieve many hyperthyroidism symptoms, including tremors, heat intolerance, rapid heartbeat, and nervousness.
 
Most people feel better within hours of taking these medicines. Beta blockers act by blocking the effects of thyroid hormone on the body, but they do not stop thyroid hormone production. Once the hyperthyroidism is under control, beta blockers are stopped.
 

Radioiodine Therapy as a Hyperthyroidism Treatment

Radioactive iodine is the most widely used treatment for hyperthyroidism in the United States. It is an effective and permanent way to resolve this condition. Destroying the thyroid with radiation is also called radioiodine ablation.
 
Because the thyroid gland collects iodine to make thyroid hormone, it will collect the radioactive iodine in the same way. The radioactive iodine will gradually destroy the cells that make up the thyroid gland but will not affect other tissues in the body. The amount of radiation used is small and does not appear to cause cancer.
 
Radioiodine is given as a liquid or in capsule form. It is given as a single dose, although the full effects are not seen for about 6 to 18 weeks.
 
Sometimes, more than one round of radioiodine ablation is needed to bring thyroid hormone production into the normal range. In the meantime, treatment with beta blockers can control symptoms. A second round of therapy is needed about 20 percent of the time.
 
There is the possibility of exposing close contacts to low doses of radiation. Therefore, healthcare providers recommend avoiding close contact with young children and pregnant women for three to seven days after treatment. People should also avoid sharing utensils or cups or having sexual contact during this time.
 
Almost everyone who receives radioactive iodine treatment eventually develops hypothyroidism. Healthcare providers consider this an acceptable outcome, since hypothyroidism is easier to treat and has fewer long-term problems than hyperthyroidism. If a person does develop hypothyroidism, they will need thyroid hormone replacement therapy (see Hypothyroidism Treatment).
 
Pregnant women should not receive radioiodine therapy, and any pregnancy should be delayed for four to six months after this treatment is completed.
 
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Hyperthyroidism Information

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