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TREATMENT OF GRAVES' HYPERTHYROIDISM (Graves' Disease)
The Australian Way

PETER COLMAN


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People who try to research the treatment of Graves’ disease on the Internet or via medical books often end up confused rather than informed. Part of the confusion flows from the fact that approaches to treatment differ quite dramatically within and between countries.

There is universal agreement that people presenting with Graves’ disease require rapid treatment to settle the symptoms, which are often incapacitating. However, this can be achieved by tablets, by surgery or by radioactive iodine treatment.

The tablets fall into 2 groups:

The Beta-blockers block some of the most troublesome symptoms of thyrotoxicosis – shakes, sweating, rapid heart beat – by blocking the effects of the excessive thyroid hormone on the muscles, skin and heart. However, Beta-blockers have no effect whatsoever on reducing the excessive production of thyroid hormone from the thyroid gland. The anti-thyroid drugs, on the other hand, work on the thyroid directly to decrease the excessive thyroid hormone production. These tablets often take a few weeks to produce effects and often need to be used in quite high dosage, at least initially.

The other treatments, surgery and radioactive iodine, are grouped together as ‘ablative’ treatments. Both reduce the amount of functioning thyroid tissue and hence reduce thyroid hormone production.

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Associate Professor Peter Colman is
Director, Department of Diabetes and Endocrinology,
Royal Melbourne Hospital.

This article is published along with a number of other articles dealing with Hyperthyroidism in our newsletter
Thyroid Flyer Volume 1 No 2, April 2000
and is available for download on our download page.

This article can be reproduced provided it is reproduced in full, acknowledges the source and is not sold for profit.
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