Other Drugs

Figuring out how you're going to cure hyperthyroidism can take time. While you're at it, your doctor may prescribe other medications to treat your bothersome symptoms. After all, it can be exhausting to have an elevated heart rate and persistent tremors, and to live in a constant state of anxiety. The following section will discuss the different types of drugs your doctor may initially prescribe to relieve you of your symptoms.

Beta-blockers

These medications — known as beta- adrenergic receptor antagonists — are generally used to treat high blood pressure, relieve angina pain, and to prevent heart attack in people who have had previous attacks.

In people with hyperthyroidism, beta-blockers have a similar effect. Hyperthyroidism causes an increase in beta- adrenergic receptors in your body cells, which causes your cells to use more adrenaline, a hormone that speeds up your heart rate. Beta-blockers work by blocking the effects of adrenaline. They can slow a rapid heart beat, lower blood pressure, reduce tremors, and improve irregular rhythms of the heart. As a result, your heart requires less blood and oxygen and doesn't have to work as hard.

There are actually several different types of beta-blockers. Two of the most common ones used in hyperthyroidism are atenolol (Tenormin), which is given once or twice a day, and propanolol (Inderal), which is taken three to four times a day. Propanolol, but not atenolol, also blocks the conversion of T4 to T3, so you have less thyroid hormone available to body cells.

Certain people with pre-existing conditions should be careful about taking beta-blockers. Always tell your doctor if you have heart disease, heart failure, diabetes, depression, kidney disease, liver disease, or circulation problems. Beta-blockers can also aggravate several respiratory conditions such as asthma, emphysema, and severe allergies. If you have these pre-existing conditions, there's a chance your doctor may not use these medications.

What can I do for insomnia caused by hyperthyroidism?

One option is to ask your doctor for a prescription sleep medication, such as Ambien (zolpidem). Like most sleep remedies, Ambien is recommended only for short-term use. Practicing good sleep habits, like going to bed on a regular schedule, exercising regularly (especially in the morning), and avoiding caffeine, can also help.

You should also be cautious if you are already taking other medications, since combining them with beta-blockers can affect the potency of one or both drugs. Drugs that warrant mention include hormonal contraceptives, diuretics, diabetes medications, heart medications, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories, and calcium channel blockers.

While taking beta-blockers, you may experience side effects. Common ones include dizziness, fatigue, lightheadedness, upset stomach, and diarrhea. Some people may develop depression. More serious side effects are rare, but include swelling, shortness of breath, unusual weight gain, and fainting.

Iodine Solutions

As you already know, iodine has numerous uses in the diagnosis and treatment of thyroid disease. For people who have severe hyperthyroidism, these iodine solutions are sometimes used to temporarily block the production of thyroid hormone. These treatments include potassium iodide, sodium iodide, and Lugol's solution, which is sometimes simply called strong iodine. They are given in the short-term for a rapid reduction of symptoms.

Fact

Lugol's solution was named after the French physician Jean Guillaume Auguste Lugol (1786–1851). The solution contains iodine, potassium iodide, and distilled water. He originally touted his solution as a treatment for tuberculosis (TB). Although it did not succeed in treating TB, Stanley Plummer did use Lugol's solution to treat hyperthyroidism.

The use of the iodine solutions is at the discretion of your doctor. Situations that may warrant their use include:

  • Before surgery in Graves' disease to reduce blood flow to the diseased thyroid tissue.

  • For treatment of severe hyperthyroidism or thyroid storm.

  • After RAI in patients with Graves' disease who are allergic to antithyroid drugs, in order to normalize thyroid function.

  • To relieve persistent mild hyperthyroidism in patients who have undergone RAI months earlier, in order to avoid a second dose of RAI.

Iodine solutions, however, should not be used in patients with a multinodular goiter. The additional iodine may only fuel the production of thyroid hormone.

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