10 Treatment Options For Hyperthyroidism
Hyperthyroidism can be a major source of stress. The disorder can interfere with your routine, put your health at risk, and just plain make you feel lousy. Fortunately, there are plenty of treatment options available.
Let’s take a look at what the hyperthyroidism is all about, then dive into potential treatments.
What is hyperthyroidism?
The thyroid, a butterfly-shaped gland located near the base of your neck, is responsible for producing certain hormones that help your body thrive. Hormones released by the thyroid are responsible for important functions like your heart rate, nervous system, temperature, weight, and breathing.
When you have hyperthyroidism, your thyroid produces too many hormones. This can lead to unpleasant symptoms like anxiety, a rapid heartbeat, tremors, sweating, weight changes, weak hair and nails, and sleep issues. Hyperthyroidism is often associated with specific disorders and issues, including the ones mentioned below.
Grave’s disease is an autoimmune disease characterized by the immune system attacking the thyroid, prompting it too produce too many thyroids. It’s one of the most common hyperthyroidism related disorders.
Sometimes thyroids develop nodes, which can be either cancerous or benign. Sometimes they are caused by a deficiency of iodine, and sometimes they appear for seemingly no reason. Some thyroid nodes produce hormones of their own, which, when paired with the hormones created by the gland itself, leads to an excess.
When you experience goiter, your thyroid is enlarged. It’s often caused by a lack of iodine in a person’s diet.
What causes hyperthyroidism?
While thyroid issues sometimes appear for no clear reason, they’re often hereditary. Hyperthyroidism can also develop during pregnancy or in the year after having a baby. They can also be caused by an iodine deficiency, particularly in regions with a shortage of iodine in residents’ diets.
How is hyperthyroidism diagnosed?
Hyperthyroidism is diagnosed when a doctor conducts tests. They can help you decide on a treatment plan, and that plan will often include medication. There are also many herbs and natural options that can complement your medical care as you heal.
In many instances, one of the most common and effective ways to treat hyperthyroidism is with medication prescribed by your doctor. (Speak with your doctor to consider the best plan for your own individual situation.) Anti-thyroid medicine can stop your thyroid from producing extra hormones.
Medication often begins to reduce the symptoms gradually, with improvements often taking place within six to twelve weeks. Since the medication takes time to take full effect, do your best not to get too discouraged in the interim. It may also take some trial and error to determine the perfect dose for you, but once you find the right fit, you’ll likely find longterm relief from your symptoms. There are occasional relapses of hyperthyroidism on medication, but if this occurs, your doctor can help you find another solution. Thyroid medication can sometimes cause liver damage, so be sure to keep your medical care team updated on any new symptoms or changes to your wellbeing while on the medication.
2. Radioactive Iodine Treatment
Thyroid cells are the only cells in your body that can absorb iodine. Because of this, you can use radioactive iodine for treatment. In this treatment, some of your thyroid cells will absorb the radioactive iodine and be damaged or killed, and your thyroid may shrink.
When you have hyperthyroidism, this is good news, because those thyroid cells will no longer overproduce hormones. This is an oral treatment that you will likely only need one dose of, and you don’t need to be hospitalized for it. It can take a few months for the treatment to take full effects, but the radioactivity only stays within your system for a few days. (Keep in mind that this is a different intensity of radioactive iodine than the type used for scans, and that it is found to be generally safe.)
In a few specific types of cases, your doctor may recommend thyroidectomy surgery, which involves removing a large amount of your thyroid. In lots of cases, surgery is only suggested if medication or radioactive iodine therapy are not viable options. After surgery, you’ll need to take medication daily in order for your body to get the thyroid hormones it needs. In many cases, the surgery will only require that you be hospitalized for a day or so. It may even be an out-patient procedure. There is a very small chance of injury to your voice box when you have the surgery, but this is very rare.
Beta-blockers don’t improve the thyroid itself, but they do treat some of the toughest symptoms of hyperthyroidism: heart palpitations and rapid heart rate. If your doctor has also prescribed hyperthyroidism medication, you may be able to discontinue the beta-blockers once the hyperthyroid medication takes effect, as it will diminish the cause of these symptoms.
This herb can be helpful in regulating your thyroid and easing its hormone production. In turn, it can help curb some of the difficult symptoms of hyperthyroidism. Bugleweed is most often enjoyed by steeping in hot water like tea. (Bugleweed can interact with some diabetes medicine, so be sure to let your doctor know before taking it.)
6. Calcium and Vitamin D
Hyperthyroidism can lead to your bones thinning, so it’s key to do your best to prevent this by making sure you’re getting enough calcium or vitamin D. You can look for foods that are great sources of these nutrients or you can add supplements to your routine if your doctor okays it. Foods like salmon, cheese, tuna, egg yolk, and orange juice are a great start. Above all, just make sure you’re looking out for the health of your bones.
7. Lemon Balm
This herb could help your thyroid stabilize and decrease the overproduction of hormones that comes along with hyperthyroidism. (As an added bonus, lemon balm can also help boost your immune system and detox your system!) Lemon balm is usually ingested as a tea, which also makes it a relaxing way to unwind from the anxiety symptoms that can accompany hyperthyroidism.
8. Reducing Stress
Stress and hyperthyroidism often go hand in hand, and the fact that a common hyperthyroidism symptom is anxiety certainly doesn’t help matters. The demands of modern life make many of us feel like we’re running on a hamster wheel day in and day out—empower yourself with the reminder that you don’t have to live this way. Yes, many stressors are unavoidable, but there are also plenty of obligations you can slowly ease your way out of. Practice saying “no” to tasks and obligations that you know you won’t have time for. Talk to a therapist about stress relief and work with them to develop healthy stress coping mechanisms like exercise, creative outlets, and breathing techniques. You’ll get there, one step at a time.
9. Diet Changes
Some healthy changes to your diet may help ease some of your hyperthyroidism symptoms. You’ll especially want to aim for healthy fats and anti-inflammatories. Both can have a positive impact on your thyroid as well as on your immune system and overall health. Anti-inflammatory foods also come with the perk of reducing pain, soreness, and swelling throughout the body. If you’re not sure where to start, try foods like egg yolk, ginger, broccoli, berries, ghee, and tomatoes. Also aim to eat sea vegetables whenever you can!
10. Adjustments To Your Daily Routine
Work on making some changes in your daily habits to focus on getting enough of the sleep and exercise that you need. Both are major factors in your overall health, and can also help reduce your hyperthyroidism symptoms. A common symptom of hyperthyroidism is trouble falling asleep, so aim to increase your sleep hours with rituals like shutting off technology one hour before bed, sticking to a consistent bedtime, and keep your bedroom quiet and cool. Exercise is also usually a great boost to your thyroid health, so prioritize moving for at least 20-30 minutes each day.
Remember: Hyperthyroidism IS Treatable
Most thyroid issues are treatable, so don’t despair if your hyperthyroidism is causing you pain or unhappiness. Once you talk with your doctor, help is likely just around the corner. It’s key to remain patient as you wait for your medication or any other treatments to kick in. Remember that healing takes time, mix in healthy habits that make you feel your best, and you’ll be back to yourself in no time.