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Other Treatments for Hyperthyroidism
Radioactive Iodine (Radioiodine)
- Neck pain or soreness
- Soreness of the salivary glands, which are located on the side of the mouth
- Worsening of hyperthyroid symptoms for a few days
- Worsening of the eye disease in Graves' disease, especially in smokers—if you smoke, radioactive iodine may be avoided
- Change in taste
- If you are pregnant or nursing, radioactive treatment is not an option. It may harm the thyroid of the fetus or child.
- If you are a woman of childbearing age, you should have a negative pregnancy test prior to the treatment. You should then use a contraceptive method for at least six months after the treatment.
- If you are taking an antithyroid drug, it should be stopped before starting the radioiodine to get the best iodine uptake. Your doctor will tell you how far ahead of time to stop the medication.
- If you are aged 65 years or older, or have a heart condition, you may need to take antithyroid drugs for several weeks prior to and after radioactive iodine treatment. This is done to avoid postirradiation thyroiditis, in which there may be too much thyroid hormone released after the procedure.
- The amount of radiation you receive is not dangerous. To be on the safe side, doctors recommend that you do not spend long periods of time with pregnant women or very small children. Most doctors suggest sleeping alone for two days and avoiding kissing for 2-3 days. A small amount of radioactive iodine comes out in the saliva.
- If you have an active eye disease related to hyperthyroidism, then you should avoid this treatment.
American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists. Medical guidelines for clinical practice for the evaluation and treatment of hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. Endocrine Practice. 2002;8:457-469.
Hyperthyroidism. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us. Updated March 12, 2013. Accessed November 25, 2013.
Bonnema SJ, Bartalena L, et al. Controversies in radioiodine therapy: relation to ophthalmopathy, the possible radioprotective effect of antithyroid drugs, and use in large goiters. Eur J Endocrinol. 2002;147:1-11.
Kasper DL, Harrison TR. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 16th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2005.
Pearce EN. Diagnosis and management of thyrotoxicosis. Brit Med J. 2006;332:1369-1373.
- Reviewer: Kim Carmichael, MD
- Review Date: 11/2013
- Update Date: 11/25/2013