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Treatment Options



How is Graves’ disease treated?

Graves' disease is treated three ways. The choice of treatment varies to some degree from country to country, and among particular physicians as well. The decision should be made with the full knowledge and informed consent of the patient, who is the primary member of the treatment team. The selection of treatment will include factors such as age, degree of illness, and personal preferences. Generally speaking, from least invasive to most invasive, the treatments include:

  1. Anti-thyroid drugs, which inhibit production or conversion of the active thyroid hormone
  2. Total thyroidectomy, in which a surgeon removes the thyroid gland and renders it incapable of overproducing thyroid hormone
  3. Radioactive iodine (I-131), which destroys part or all of the thyroid gland and renders it incapable of overproducing thyroid hormone

For in-depth information on the three treatment options, please visit our patient education page.

Are there any alternatives for treating Graves’ disease?

There are a number of things that you can do to assist your body in healing. However, the state of science as we know it indicates there is no "natural" way to "cure" Graves' disease. For instance, although there are no specific foods that will change your thyroid function, the healthier, nutritionally dense foods you eat, the better your body will be able to fight against infection and further insult. Equally, many of the treatments like acupuncture, exercise, meditation, and various mind-body therapies may provide comfort measures and relief, but are not a substitute for standard medical treatment. Be sure to consult and collaborate with your physician when embarking on additional therapies. There are many studies of other auto-immune diseases that indicate that the more input and control a patient has in their care, the more rapid their recovery will be. It is of interest to all who are hopeful of more, effective additional treatment models in the future that the National Institutes of Health are trying to adequately research and evaluate the hard data of alternative therapies.

What are the complications with Graves’ disease?

Graves' disease usually responds to treatment, and after the initial period of hyperthyroidism, is relatively easy to treat and manage. There are some exceptions to this, and for some, treatment and subsequent stabilization are much more challenging, both to the patient and the treating team of physicians. The more serious complications of prolonged, untreated, or improperly treated Graves' disease include weakened heart muscle leading to heart failure; osteoporosis, or possible severe emotional disorders.

Recent News

Recent Forum Posts

  • Post RAI levels and exercise questions

    April 18, 2014, 5:23 a.m.

    We also lose muscle mass when we're hypER, so as long as your levels are normal or even slightly hypO now,...

  • Graves' Disease Outreach Event at UCLA Stein Eye Center June 14th

    April 17, 2014, 3:17 p.m.

    Hi all - The University of California Los Angeles Jules Stein Eye Center is hosting a Graves' Disease...

  • Hypo after RAI

    April 17, 2014, 3:11 p.m.

    Hello - Hopefully others will chime in here, but if you start experiencing other symptoms of hypo before your...

  • YAY! It is working!

    April 17, 2014, 8:48 a.m.

    Good for you, Amy! I'm so glad to hear that you are feeling better.

  • Hypo after RAI

    April 17, 2014, 8:47 a.m.

    Hi all, It has been about three weeks since my RAI procedure and I'm only now feeling really moody and...

  • What is your life like after RAI ?

    April 17, 2014, 8:45 a.m.

    Hi Lilly, I had my RAI procedure about three weeks ago. Taking the RAI pill itself and going through...

  • YAY! It is working!

    April 16, 2014, 8:46 p.m.

    Thank you! I will make sure.

  • YAY! It is working!

    April 16, 2014, 1:36 p.m.

    Wow, great news - definitely keep us posted! And when you go in for that first set of labs, make sure that...

  • Meds interfering with Levothyroxine

    April 16, 2014, 1:34 p.m.

    Thanks for clarifying - hoping that you can get *off* this rollercoaster soon!

  • YAY! It is working!

    April 16, 2014, 12:54 p.m.

    Hi all! I had my RAI almost 3 weeks ago. I haven't gone in for my bloodwork yet, but I feel much better. The...

  • Meds interfering with Levothyroxine

    April 15, 2014, 5:41 p.m.

    Kimberly SueAndHerZoo Since that check up I lowered my dose a slight bit more and was very eager to hear...

  • Post RAI levels and exercise questions

    April 15, 2014, 4:13 p.m.

    Hello and welcome! The primary concern with exercise is to avoid strenuous activity while hyperthyroid....

  • Meds interfering with Levothyroxine

    April 15, 2014, 4:04 p.m.

    SueAndHerZoo Since that check up I lowered my dose a slight bit more and was very eager to hear about my...

  • Communication with MD

    April 15, 2014, 3:57 p.m.

    Hello - This should be a credible resource regarding surgery and hyper/hypothyroidism. Dr. Cooper is on the...

  • New to the group. lab questions?

    April 15, 2014, 3:44 p.m.

    Hi Amber - As Ellen mentioned, we aren't allowed to interpret labs, but make sure that your doc is familiar...

Questions? Problems? Please contact us at info@ngdf.org or 877-643-3123.

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© 2014 Graves' Disease & Thyroid Foundation