How do medications treat toxic goiter?

Dr. Jack Merendino, MD
Endocrinology Diabetes & Metabolism
A “toxic goiter” means thyroid enlargement that results in hyperthyroidism (too much thyroid hormone in the bloodstream). Medications do two things in the case of a toxic goiter. Beta blockers such as propranolol will lessen the rapid heartbeat and tremor of hyperthyroidism. Beta blockers only treat the symptoms of a toxic goiter. Anti-thyroid medication such as methimazole or propylthiouracil (PTU) will actually reduce thyroid hormone levels. At one time it was thought that these medications could only be taken for a year at most, but we now know that these medications can safely be taken for many years if the individual is carefully monitored, especially if the dose required is low.  
Medication can be used to regulate an imbalance in your thyroid hormones. If your thyroid is severely overactive, you may need medication to reduce thyroid hormone levels. Radioactive iodine is another kind of medication doctors use to treat diffuse goiter. The iodine kills excess thyroid cells, however sometimes after using this medication people become dependent on other thyroid medication to produce the right amount of thyroid hormone.

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