Graves Disease Treatment

The purpose of treatment is to control the overactivity of the thyroid gland. Beta-blockers such as propranolol are often used to treat symptoms of rapid heart rate, sweating, and anxiety until the hyperthyroidism is controlled. Hyperthyroidism is treated with antithyroid medications, radioactive iodine, or surgery.

Both radiation and surgery result in the need for lifelong use of replacement thyroid hormones, because these treatments destroy or remove the gland.

The eye problems related to Graves disease usually disappear when medications, radiation, or surgery solve the hyperthyroidism problem. Sometimes use of prednisone (a steroid medication, which suppresses the immune system) is required to reduce eye irritation and swelling.

Taping the eyes closed at night to prevent drying may sometimes be required. Sunglasses and eyedrops may lessen irritation of the eyes. Rarely, surgery may be needed to return the eyes to their normal position.

Outlook (Prognosis)

For most people, Graves disease responds well to treatment. However, thyroid surgery or radioactive iodine will sometimes cause hypothyroidism, which can lead to weight gain, depression, and mental and physical sluggishness. Antithyroid medications can also have serious side effects.