Generally speaking, there are three types of thyroid problems. The thyroid may be over active (hyperactive), under-active (hypoactive) or there may be an accumulation of flesh around the gland. While an under-active thyroid condition require a thyroid supplement to cover the deficiency of thyroid hormones, the over-production of these hormones in a hyperactive condition needs to be suppressed. Surgery and radioiodine therapy are other options that may be considered in the case of an enlarged thyroid or hyperthyroidism.
Initially, temporary treatment modalities of thyrostatic medication may be used. This treatment is qualified as temporary, because hyperthyroidism is characterized by frequent natural remissions as well as relapses. Moreover, the thyroid tissue is capable of storing substantial reserves of thyroid hormones. This means that thyrostatic drugs may take some time to show results. Beta blockers are used in treating symptoms of thyroid problem such as hypertension or abnormal rate of muscle contractions in the heart, trembling and anxiety. Beta blockers decrease the force and rate of heart contractions by blocking beta-adrenergic receptors of the autonomic nervous system.
Sometimes surgery may be necessary to suppress overproduction of thyroid hormones. Depending upon the level of over production, a small piece of thyroid is excised. However, surgery for treating hyperactive thyroid conditions is now considered to be predated and used only in cases of allergy towards iodine or refusal of patients to accept radioiodine treatment.
Radioactive iodine therapy destroys a predetermined percentage of hyperactive thyroid cells so as to leave behind only as much as are necessary to maintain a healthy metabolic rate. First, a routine iodine scan is performed to determine uptake of iodine to confirm over activity of the thyroid cells. Radioactive iodine is then given, which is taken up by overactive cells that are then destroyed. As it is performed by a professional trained in nuclear medicine and inexpensive, is not preferred by doctors who are not conversant with it.
The end goal of surgical excision and radioactive treatment is to transform hyperthyroidism to hypothyroidism (under-active), which is easily treatable by providing thyroid support and hormonal replacement therapy. Due to the mercurial nature of thyroid conditions, it imperative that all thyroid treatment must necessarily be followed up by regular checkups for monitoring levels of thyroid hormones (T3 and T4) as well as thyroid stimulating hormones (TSH) in the blood.