Treatment is geared to reducing the hormones produced by the thyroid gland and relieving symptoms. Beta-blockers, such as propranolol, may relieve rapid heart rate, sweating, and anxiety caused by increased hormone activity. Drugs that reduce thyroid hormone production are often given initially and may control the hyperthyroidism.
A large dose of radioactive iodine may be given to destroy most or all of the thyroid gland, reducing hormone levels and eliminating the symptoms of hyperthyroidism. In some cases, this therapy is not adequate to cure Graves disease and may need to be repeated. Over time, the thyroid gland may have decreased function and the person may develop hypothyroidism though this may not develop for many years. Because of this, those who have been treated may need to be monitored.
Sometimes surgery is performed to remove the thyroid gland. Once the thyroid has been removed or destroyed, the patient will need to take thyroid hormone replacement medication. Most of the eye problems decrease as the hormone levels are lowered, but some may require further action.