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Graves' Disease Treatment

Graves' Disease Treatment
Causes and Risk Factors

Graves’ disease treatment
Graves’ disease often responds well to treatment. The purpose of treatment for Graves’ disease is to control the over activity of the thyroid gland. Unfortunately, there's no treatment that can stop the immune system from producing antibodies that cause Graves’ disease. This is why treatments are designed to control the signs and symptoms of Graves’ disease to decrease the production of thyroxine or to block its action.

Home treatment for Graves’ ophthalmopathy
The following suggestions may make help relieve symptoms of eye discomfort if you have been diagnosed with Graves’ ophthalmopathy:

Apply cool compresses to the eyes - Additional moisture can help soothe the eyes.

Elevate the head of the bed - Keep the head higher than the rest of the body to decrease fluid accumulation in the head and help relieve pressure on the eyes.

Use lubricating eye drops – Eye drops can help relieve dry, scratchy sensations that can manifest on the surface of your eyes. At night, for example, you can apply a paraffin-based gel.

Wear sunglasses - When the eyes protrude, they're more vulnerable to ultraviolet rays and more sensitive to bright light. Buy sunglasses that wrap around the sides of the head to decrease eye irritation, particularly from the wind.

Home treatment for Graves’ dermopathy
If Graves’ disease affects the skin, use over-the-counter creams or ointments containing hydrocortisone to help relieve swelling and reddening. In addition, compression wraps on the legs can help soothe symptoms of Graves’ dermopathy.

If you are diagnosed with Graves’ disease, make your mental and physical well-being a priority. Eating well and exercising can help relieve some symptoms while you seek treatment and will help you feel better in general. For example, exercise can help offset the effects of weight gain as hyperthyroidism corrects. Brittle bones can also occur with Graves’ disease and weight-bearing exercises can help maintain bone density.

In general, try to ease stress as much as you can, as stress possibly contributes to the development of Graves’ disease. Listen to music, take a warm bath or walking can help ease tension. Ask your doctor for more information about how to plan good nutrition, exercise and relaxation into your daily routine.

Radioactive iodine therapy
To make thyroid hormones, the body requires iodine and uses whatever form of iodine is available in the blood. Radioactive iodine therapy aims to destroy overactive thyroid cells as radioactive iodine collects in the thyroid gland over time. This treatment can cause the thyroid gland to shrink, and relieve problems associated with Graves’ disease gradually, usually over several weeks to several months. Doctors frequently recommend thyroxine treatment to supply the body with normal amounts of thyroid hormones during the course of therapy to counter-act the effects of a decrease in thyroid activity. Be aware, however, that radioactive iodine treatment may increase risk of new or worsened symptoms of Graves’ ophthalmopathy. This temporary side effect is usually mild but radioactive iodine therapy may not be recommended if you already experience moderate to severe eye problems.


Anti-thyroid medications - These types of prescription medications prevent the thyroid from producing excessive amounts of hormones and are often used along with radioactive iodine treatment or surgery to help control signs and symptoms. Typically, treatment with anti-thyroid medications continues for at least a year. Even with the use of medications, however, relapse is fairly common. These drugs

  • methimazole
  • propylthiouracil

Beta blockers - Beta-blockers are often used to treat symptoms of rapid heart rate, sweating, and anxiety until the hyperthyroidism is controlled. These medications do not cure Graves’ disease because the body still produces too much thyroxine. However, but beta blockers block some of the action of the thyroid hormone. Beta blockers are often used in conjunction with other forms of treatment.

  • atenolol
  • metoprolol
  • propanolol
  • nadolol

People diagnosed with Graves’ disease who cannot tolerate anti-thyroid drugs and prefer an alternative to radioactive iodine therapy may be candidates for surgery such as thyroid gland removal (thyroidectomy). After the surgery, doctors often prescribe thyroxine treatment or calcium and/or vitamin D supplements to supply the body with normal amounts of minerals and thyroid hormones.

Treating Graves’ ophthalmopathy
If Graves’ disease affects the eyes, you can manage mild symptoms by using artificial tears liberally during the day and lubricating gels at night. If your symptoms are more severe, your doctor may recommend any one of the following treatment options:

Eye muscle surgery - The inflammation caused by Graves’ disease can affect your eye muscles, making them too short to allow the eyes to align properly. During eye muscle surgery, doctors cut the muscle where it attaches to the eyeball and reattach it farther back. Sometimes, more than one operation is necessary for successful outcome.

Medications- Doctors can also recommend prescription corticosteroids, such as prednisone to help lessen swelling behind the eyeballs.

Orbital decompression surgery - During this surgery, doctors remove the bone between the eye socket and the sinuses to allow the eyes room to move back to their original position. Possible complications include double vision and lip numbness.

Orbital radiotherapy - Orbital radiotherapy uses targeted X-rays to destroy some of the tissue behind the eyes but may not be useful for people who experience mild to moderately severe Graves’ ophthalmopathy. Orbital radiotherapy may be suggested if eye problems have worsened and prescription corticosteroids alone aren't effective or well tolerated.

Prisms - Double vision caused by Graves’ disease or as a side effect of surgery for Graves’ disease may be corrected with the use of prisms in the glasses.

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Tags: prescription medications, treatment options, thyroid hormones, artificial tears, behind the eyes, hyperthyroidism, thyroid hormone, alternative to, thyroid gland, complications, bone density, prescription, alternative, medications, artificial, heart rate, treatments, Nutrition, treatment, atenolol
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