Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Women's Health

Font Size

Hyperthyroidism - Medications

Antithyroid medicine is often used for hyperthyroidism, because it works more quickly than radioactive iodine therapy. Radioactive iodine therapy destroys part or all of the thyroid gland, depending on the dosage used. But antithyroid medicine does not cause permanent thyroid damage.

You may take antithyroid medicine before you have radioactive iodine treatment or surgery-to bring your metabolism to normal, to make you feel better, or to reduce the chances of more serious problems.

Antithyroid medicine does control hyperthyroidism in many people. But the medicine does have some drawbacks.

  • You have to take the medicine for at least 1 year.
  • Your symptoms may come back after you stop taking it. And then you have to start taking antithyroid medicine again or try a different treatment.
  • There are some rare side effects from the medicine, ranging from a rash to a low white blood cell count, which can make it hard for your body to fight infection.

Your doctor may prescribe additional medicines to treat symptoms caused by hyperthyroidism, such as rapid heartbeat or dry eyes. These medicines can help you feel better while you wait for another treatment to begin to work.

What to think about

  • Antithyroid medicine may or may not make your hyperthyroidism symptoms go away. The medicine is much more effective in people who have mild disease. Up to 30 out of 100 people in the United States will have their hyperthyroidism go away (go into remission) after taking antithyroid medicine for 12 to 18 months.3
  • Antithyroid medicine works best if you have mild hyperthyroidism, if this is the first time you are being treated for Graves' disease, if you are younger than 50, or if your thyroid gland is only swollen a little bit (small goiter). It is not used for thyroiditis.
  • Antithyroid medicine is used instead of radioactive iodine if you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or trying to become pregnant.
  • Children are treated with antithyroid medicine, because experts do not know if radioactive iodine treatment is safe for children. Treating children with antithyroid medicine is challenging. It is hard to know how much medicine they need when they are growing so quickly.
  • Your doctor may prescribe low doses of thyroid hormone medicine to take with your antithyroid medicine so that your thyroid hormone levels do not get too low.
dplink.gif Hyperthyroidism: Should I Use Antithyroid Medicine or Radioactive Iodine?

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: November 14, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    hands on abdomen
    Test your knowledge.
    womans hand on abdomen
    Are you ready for baby?
    birth control pills
    Learn about your options.
    Is it menopause or something else?
    woman in bathtub
    bp app on smartwatch and phone
    estrogen gene

    Send yourself a link to download the app.

    Loading ...

    Please wait...

    This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.


    Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

    Blood pressure check
    hot water bottle on stomach
    Attractive young woman standing in front of mirror