Hyperthyroidism: what to expect from treatment

Written by: Professor Parag Singhal
Published: | Updated: 22/01/2020
Edited by: Robert Smith

The thyroid gland can be found in the neck, situated just below the Adam's apple. Its job is to regulate hormones. Hyperthyroidism is essentially an overactive thyroid, which can mean an overproduction of hormones which can result in serious consequences.

Professor Parag Singhal, a top endocrinologist, explains some of the treatment options available for hyperthyroidism, how effective treatment can be and some of the risks involved.

neck-hyperthyroidism

What are the treatment options available?

 

Tablets

There are a variety of tablets that can help bring thyroid hormone levels back to normal to prevent long-term health problems and relieve uncomfortable symptoms. Some of the options are:

  • Beta-blockers:

These do not stop thyroid hormone production but can reduce symptoms until another treatment will take effect. Beta-blockers act quite quickly to relieve many of the symptoms, such as rapid heartbeat, tremors and nervousness.

  • Antithyroid medicines:

Antithyroid therapy is the simplest way to treat hyperthyroidism. These medicines usually don’t provide a permanent cure either. The two available medicines are carbimazole and propylthiouracil. You’ll usually need to take the medicine for a couple of months before you notice any improvements. Pregnant women usually have to take propylthiouracil during the first three months of pregnancy because carbimazole can harm the foetus.

Once your thyroid hormone levels are under control, your dose may be gradually reduced and then stopped. Some people may need to continue taking medicine for many more years or possibly for life.

 

Radioiodine therapy

The oral medication is absorbed by your thyroid glands. Radioactive iodine works by gradually destroying the thyroid. This, in turn, reduces your hyperthyroid symptoms. This treatment can permanently cure hyperthyroidism and causes little side effects on the rest of your body. Some may require a repeat of this treatment, this means you’d have to take thyroid hormone replacement therapy.

 

Surgery

The partial or total surgical removal of the thyroid is called a thyroidectomy. This is performed by an experienced surgery and it is an effective and safe treatment. As with any surgery, it poses some small risks, including potential damage to the parathyroid glands and vocal cords. Surgery tends to be recommended for certain types of hyperthyroidism.

 

How will my doctor determine the best hyperthyroidism treatment for me?

Tailored to the needs and circumstances of the patients. This is why patients need to be seen by specialists. Tablets are often the first line of treatment.

 

Is hyperthyroidism permanent?

Definitive treatment can cure hyperthyroidism though this leads to hypothyroidism where your thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones. Unfortunately, there is no way of preventing an underactive thyroid. Hypothyroidism usually lasts 12 to 18 months, but sometimes it is permanent.

 

Does treatment for hyperthyroidism have side-effects?

Side effects are rare and generally seen with high doses. Side effects vary depending on the type of drugs you will be recommended by an expert who will recommend the best treatment option for you.

 

Can lifestyle choices help manage hyperthyroidism?

Treatment is the only way to manage and control hyperthyroidism.

 

If you feel you may be suffering from an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism), it is recommended you speak with a specialist such as Professor Singhal who will be able to treat you. To make an appointment with Professor Singhal, enquire here.

By Professor Parag Singhal
Endocrinology, diabetes & metabolism

Professor Parag Singhal is a consultant physician and endocrinologist. In the field of endocrinology and metabolic medicine, his special interests lie in all aspects of diabetes, including diabetic foot, thyroid disease and reproductive medicine. He is available for consultations and treatment at the private practices of Nuffield Health Taunton Hospital, The Waterside Suite, Weston General Hospital and The Chesterfield Clinic, Nuffield Health Bristol Hospital.

Professor Singhal received his initial medical training in India at Jiwaji University before moving to the UK where he became a Member of the Royal College of Physicians of London in 1995. Following this, he gained further training in the US, after which he received his higher specialist training in Newcastle. He received his postgraduate MPhil at the University of Newcastle in 2002 and became a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of London in 2004. Since 2000 he has worked as a consultant at Weston Hospital, which is part of the Bristol Teaching Hospital.

Professor Singhal was heavily involved in a project to offer remote assistance to junior doctors in India, to help manage the COVID-19 crisis in the country. Using a telemedicine tool, Professor Singhal, as secretary of the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO) offered virtual consultation to doctors in India to help fight the second wave of the coronavirus, and to assist the doctors on their ward rounds. 

Professor Singhal has published many research papers. His past research involves insulin resistance and retinopathy. 

His main areas of focus are the thyroid and thyroid conditions, especially hypothyroidism. He has a large cohort of patients he has successfully treated using a combination of therapies, and as such he has patients who travel to see him from all over the country for help with their thyroid condition. Professor Singhal has high patient satisfaction scores and has received many awards that reflect his attention to improving patient care.
 

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