A person's thyroid gland may be small, but it can cause big problems if it doesn't function properly, and anybody who lives with a chronic thyroid condition knows that effective, ongoing treatment gives them the best chance of leading a normal, fulfilling life. The thyroid disorder known as Graves' disease is an incurable autoimmune disorder that causes the thyroid gland to produce excessive amounts of hormones, and proper management is particularly crucial to good health with this disorder. A sufferer's condition and quality of life can deteriorate rapidly without management.
Fortunately, people who suffer from Graves' disease have a variety of treatment options to choose from, and consulting extensively with a reputable medical practice specialising in thyroid disorders is the best way to ensure that the right treatments for a sufferer's needs are administered. If you suffer from Graves' disease and require treatment, your thyroid doctor's recommendation should be considered extremely important when choosing from the following treatment options:
Courses of antithyroid drugs are often the first treatment option. These drugs do not reduce the amount of hormones your thyroid produces, but they do prevent them from becoming chemically active and interfering with your body's functions. In most cases these drugs are well tolerated, and the most common side effects are limited to mild rashes and abnormal physical sensations, such as localised numbness and 'pins-and-needles' in the extremities.
In rare cases, these drugs can cause more serious complications, so you should discuss prospective drug treatments with your thyroid doctor before you start taking them. Consulting with your doctor is particularly important if you are pregnant or intend to conceive, as the drugs can enter the bloodstream of an unborn fetus and cause various problems. If you do decide on this treatment option, you should also visit your thyroid doctor regularly while taking them so they can monitor your health and treat any side effects that do occur.
Taking any treatment with 'radioactive' in the name is hardly reassuring, but radioactive iodine treatments are far less dangerous than they may sound. Iodine is a substance vital to good heath, and it enters the thyroid gland to be processed. By taking radioactive iodine, the overactive thyroid is gradually weakened over a number of months, eventually causing it to cease excessive production of damaging hormones.
This treatment does not pose the same risk of side effects as antithyroid drugs and helps many Graves' disease sufferers overcome their symptoms and improve their quality of life. However, if you choose this treatment option, you must visit your thyroid doctor on a regular basis so they can monitor the condition of your thyroid gland. In some cases, the thyroid gland is rendered completely inactive by these treatments. In these cases, your thyroid doctor will administer you with hormonal replacement drugs that mimic the functioning of a normal gland.
Surgery may seem like a drastic treatment option, but it can be the most effective and have the least serious side effects, especially for young people. Surgical intervention involves removal of the overactive portions of your thyroid gland and is usually a minimally invasive procedure resulting in minimal scarring and post-operative pain. A simple course of thyroid replacement drugs offsets the loss of hormonal output produced by surgery.
Surgery is used to treat a wide variety of thyroid problems, but it is particularly effective for Graves' disease sufferers and can result in remission of most or all of your symptoms. The surgery itself presents similar risks to any other kind of surgery, so you should talk to your thyroid doctor about the various risks involved, as well as any alternative treatments that may produce similarly helpful outcomes, before deciding to go under the knife.