Carla Overbeck, U.S. National Women's Soccer Team
"Suppressive therapy" uses medicine to lower the TSH level in the
blood, causing less stimulation of the thyroid gland. It often requires several
months to work and is not always effective. Also, radioactive iodine may be
used to destroy the overactive parts of the thyroid gland.
Initial treatment for thyroid eye disease involves treating the active eye
disease, which usually lasts two or more years and requires careful monitoring
until stable. Treatment during the active phase of the disease focuses on
preserving sight. Prescriptions of artificial tears and ointments, high doses
of cortisone (steroids), surgery, and possible additional treatments may be
required. Afterward, treatment of permanent changes may require surgical
correction of double vision, staring appearance, or eye protrusion.
Physicians can't always pinpoint the cause of thyroid enlargement, so
prevention is tricky at best. The American Thyroid Association recently
recommended that people over age 35 be screened with TSH tests every five
Since, with hyperthyroidism, proteins and fats are not broken down normally,
patients need to increase their calories to maintain their weight. Because
diarrhea drains needed vitamins and minerals, including calcium, patients need
to ensure that they are getting all the important nutrients. Once the thyroid
is back to normal, they will need to back off these extra calories, or they
will gain unwanted pounds.
In a released statement, Ann Brown, MD, an endocrinologist at Duke
University, where Overbeck is an assistant women's soccer coach, said "I'm
impressed with how few symptoms she showed, except when she was at peak
performance. Since she has so few symptoms at rest, I'm optimistic for a very
rapid recovery. Her physical performance will not suffer in any way when this
is fully treated."
Overbeck is expected to make a full recovery and be available for the
Olympic team, which has yet to be selected for September's Sydney Games.