Sunday, January 24, 2010

Medications for Hyperthyroidism

  • Beta-blockers: This class of medication works by blocking many of the body's responses to hyperthyroidism. It decreases tremor, nervousness, and agitation. It also reduces the fast heart rate. Beta blocker tablets are prescribed to a patient with mild to moderate symptoms of hyperthyroidism, and as an IV preparation to the person with the severe form of hyperthyroidism (thyrotoxic crisis).
  • Propylthiouracil: This antithyroid drug works by blocking thyroid hormone synthesis. It takes several months after starting the medication for the full therapeutic effect to be achieved. Common mild side effects include an itchy rash. More rare, serious side effects include a decrease in white blood cell count, which can decrease the ability to fight off infection. Therefore, a high fever should prompt a call to the doctor. This medication can rarely cause liver dysfunction.
  • Methimazole (Tapazole): This antithyroid drug also works by blocking thyroid hormone synthesis. It may take slightly longer than propylthiouracil to achieve its full effect. It has similar side effects as propylthiouracil.
  • Iodide (Lugol's solution, Strong iodine):This medication works by inhibiting the release of thyroid hormone from the overfunctioning thyroid gland. It must be used in conjunction with an antithyroid drug because the iodine can be used to increase the amount of thyroid hormone produced and worsen the hyperthyroidism. Common side effects include nausea and a metallic taste in the mouth. 

  • Radioactive iodine therapy: An endocrinologist or nuclear medicine specialist can treat overactive thyroid conditions with radioactive iodine swallow. This is generally a different type of radioactive iodine than used for diagnostic scans. This treatment takes several months to work by scarring down the thyroid gland, resulting in a smaller- sized gland, often accompanied by hypothyroidism.

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