The three types of hyperthyroidism treatment (surgery, radioiodine therapy, and medication) help reduce symptoms and prevent long-term complications of the condition. However, there is no single treatment that is appropriate for all people and all cases. It's also important to note that weight loss is a common symptom of hyperthyroidism -- therefore, it's common to gain weight after starting treatment.
How Is Hyperthyroidism Treated?The goal of treatment for hyperthyroidism is to return thyroid hormone levels to normal. This can prevent long-term complications and ease uncomfortable symptoms.
The three treatment options for an overactive thyroid include:
- Radioiodine therapy
Before recommending a particular treatment plan, healthcare providers will consider what is causing the hyperthyroidism, how severe the symptoms are, how old the person is, and what other conditions they might have (such as heart disease or pregnancy).
Medications Used to Treat HyperthyroidismThe two main types of medicines used for hyperthyroidism treatment are antithyroid medicines and beta blockers.
Antithyroid drugs decrease the amount of thyroid hormone the body makes. These medicines block the way the thyroid gland uses iodine to make thyroid hormone.
Two examples are methimazole (Tapazole®) and propylthiouracil (PTU). Methimazole is often preferred because it is taken once a day versus three times a day for propylthiouracil. However, pregnant women should not take methimazole. This drug can cause scalp problems in infants whose mothers took it during pregnancy.
Women who are breastfeeding should take only very small doses of either drug.
Most people start to feel better after a couple of weeks on the antithyroid medicines, although it may take several weeks or months for the thyroid hormone levels to move into the normal range. The average treatment time for antithyroid medicines is about one to two years. About 30 percent of people have their symptoms disappear completely following treatment.
Some people can relapse years later, which is one reason why healthcare providers consider radioactive therapy and surgery more permanent options for treating hyperthyroidism.