Hyperthyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland produces too much of the hormone thyroxine. The causes of hyperthyroidism vary and treatment of this disease will be most successful when it is based on the underlying medical condition that created it.
Hyperthyroidism can cause a number of serious symptoms. It can cause your heart to beat too fast, and it can cause arrhythmias. Hyperthyroidism can also cause weight loss and difficulty sleeping. However, the most serious symptom of hyperthyroidism is a thyrotoxic crisis, also called a hyperthyroid crisis or thyrotoxic storm. This is an uncommon medical emergency which occurs in people who have hyperthyroidism that is poorly controlled. Following an injury or illness they can experience the sudden onset of high fever, heart rate greater than 140 beats per minute, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, psychosis, seizure or coma.
If you suffer from hyperthyroidism you should understand your treatment options. Your doctor will need to perform specific tests to determine the exact cause of the hyperthyroidism. Once the cause is determined then specific treatment can begin.
One treatment includes the use of beta blockers, which are heart medications that are used to keep your rapid heart rate under control. The beta blockers may be used until the hyperthyroidism is cured.
Drug therapy with anti-thyroid medications are used often to control the release of thyroid hormone. These medications will actually prevent the thyroid from producing hormones. Two of the most common drugs in this category are Methimazole and propylthiouracil. If taken as directed, these two medications can produce an improvement is symptoms in as little as two weeks. Anti-thyroid medications can have side effects such as itching, rash or fever.
The most widely recommended type of hyperthyroidism treatment is radioactive iodine. Since the thyroid cells are the only cells in the body that absorb iodine this treatment is very successful. Radioactive iodine may be taken by mouth without the need for hospitalization. The thyroid will absorb the iodine and the radioactivity will kill the cells of the thyroid gland.
It usually takes about two months before the thyroid has been killed but the radioactive medicine usually leaves the body in about two or three days. The downside to this type of treatment is that once the thyroid is killed you will need to take hormone replacement for the rest of your life because you no longer have a hormone producing thyroid gland.
Another treatment for hyperthyroidism that is not commonly used is the surgical removal of part or all of the thyroid gland. Most thyroid surgeries require a twenty three hour hospital stay with some thyroidectomies being sent home the same day as the surgery.
There are some risks with this type of surgery. There is a slight risk of damage to the nearby vocal cords or the parathyroid glands. You also will have a small risk for infection or other complications associated with surgical procedures.
American Family Physician: Hyperthyroidism: Diagnosis and Treatment
Cleveland Clinic: Hyperthyroidism