How is hyperthyroidism treated in children?
There are three options for pediatric hyperthyroidism treatment.
- Anti-thyroid medicine called methimazole is given to decrease thyroid hormone levels. We may also use a medicine called a beta-blocker to decrease your child’s symptoms until their thyroid levels are closer to the normal range. Anti-thyroid medicine is usually taken for at least two years. Some children may go into remission and be able to end treatment. Remission is when there are no longer any symptoms of hyperthyroidism. Other children will need ongoing treatment. Those who do stop treatment should be monitored, as hyperthyroidism returns in up to 75% of children. There are possible side effects of anti-thyroid medicine, which include skin rash, joint and muscle pain, liver problems and low white blood cell count. Any problems should be checked by your doctor.
- Radioactive iodine treatment is a way to permanently treat hyperthyroidism. For this therapy, your child will swallow radioactive iodine. This is safe because their thyroid gland absorbs it. This makes their thyroid gland shrink over time, reducing its hormone production. The radioactive iodine does not harm any other body tissues. Your child may then need to take medicine to replace some of their thyroid hormones and prevent symptoms of hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism happens when thyroid levels are too low, but it is a safer and easier condition to manage. For families looking for permanent hyperthyroidism treatment, radioactive iodine therapy is our preferred choice. Sometimes we need to perform the treatment more than once, and it can worsen eye problems in Graves’ disease.
- Surgery is another option for permanent hyperthyroidism treatment. We can use it to remove part or all of your child’s thyroid gland, depending on their needs. This surgery is called a thyroidectomy. After surgery, your child may need to take medicine to replace their thyroid hormones.
What follow-up care is required for pediatric hyperthyroidism?
Following treatment, routine office visits are important to check your child’s growth, thyroid hormone levels and any other symptoms. We see most children with hyperthyroidism every 1 to 3 months at first, and then every 3 to 6 months as their thyroid hormone levels stabilize. How often your child will need to visit depends on their specific situation.
Why choose Children’s Hospital Colorado for your child’s hyperthyroidism treatment?
We understand that your child is unique. We carefully consider their condition in light of their overall health, and work with you to determine their best course of treatment.
Our pediatric endocrinologists treat hyperthyroidism in newborns to adolescents. We also coordinate with experts throughout Children’s Colorado to provide complete, integrated care for those with multiple or complex conditions.
If your child has Graves’ disease, our pediatric ophthalmologists will test them for Graves’ eye disease. We work closely with our pediatric hospitalists and intensivists to help your child get better as quickly as possible.
We offer a full range of medical, radiologic and surgical therapies. We also provide nursing and medical support for our patients all day, every day.