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Understanding Graves' Disease -- Diagnosis and Treatment

What Are the Treatments for Graves' Disease? continued...

Radioactive iodine treatments and antithyroid drugs are usually effective in slowing down thyroid hormone output, but in some cases surgery is the best approach for Graves' disease. If you develop the disorder before or during pregnancy, for example, or if you are reluctant or unable to undergo radioactive treatment or are allergic to antithyroid medication, your doctor may recommend subtotal thyroidectomy, a relatively safe and simple procedure in which most of the thyroid gland is removed.

Because many conventional remedies severely limit the thyroid's ability to manufacture thyroid hormone, they increase the chances that you will develop hypothyroidism, a potentially serious condition marked by insufficient thyroid hormone production. Therefore, if you have undergone any treatments for Graves' disease, you must continue to see your doctor for periodic checkups to make sure the problem has not been overcorrected, causing your thyroid hormone levels to drop too low.

Some degree of eye complaints occur in 25%-50% of those that develop Graves' disease but most can be managed with the home remedies discussed below. Surgery is rare and reserved for those with severe symptoms.

Graves' disease patients with eye problems can find temporary relief from the redness, swelling, and pain through a number of drugs, including prednisone, methylprednisolone, and dexamethasone. However, these medications should not be used for long periods of time, as they can lead to bone loss, muscle weakness, and weight gain. Vision problems and severe cases of eye protrusion can often be corrected through radiation therapy and surgery. A person who has Graves' disease should also see an eye doctor. Make sure to ask your doctor about any possible complications before undergoing surgery.

Home Remedies for Graves' Disease

  • If your lids cannot close completely over your eyes, use eye patches at night. This will help keep eyes from drying out.
  • Use over-the-counter or prescription artificial tears to moisten eyes whenever they feel dry.
  • If your eyes are red and swollen in the morning, sleep with your head elevated.
  • Wear tinted glasses to protect the eyes from bright light, sunlight, and wind.

 

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David T. Derrer, MD on March 31, 2013

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