If you have been diagnosed with a hyperthyroid disorder and are considering receiving radioactive iodine therapy to treat your condition, then you should be aware of the potential consequences of this harsh treatment method. While radioactive iodine therapy is sometimes necessary, it almost always should be a last resort, after everything else has been tried. But what other options does someone have who has already taken anti-thyroid drugs and is still symptomatic?
Before answering this question, let’s briefly discuss what radioactive iodine therapy is, and why you should try to avoid this harsh treatment procedure if at all possible. Your thyroid gland, which affects every cell and tissue in your body, contains iodine. The thyroid gland needs iodine in order to manufacture the thyroid hormones. With a hyperthyroid disorder, an excess of thyroid hormone is produced by the thyroid gland, which results in symptoms such as increased heart rate, palpitations, weight loss, increased appetite, and numerous other symptoms.
So when someone is diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, they might first be prescribed an anti-thyroid drug, such as Methimazole, along with a beta blocker. These drugs do nothing more than manage the symptoms, although sometimes people who take these anti-thyroid drugs go into a state of remission, which is almost always temporary. It’s usually only a matter of time until the symptoms return and radioactive iodine therapy is recommended, which is given orally to the patient, and then moves through the bloodstream to the thyroid gland.
Once it reaches the thyroid gland, it damages many of the cells of this gland to prevent it from producing thyroid hormone. This usually does an excellent job of managing the symptoms of hyperthyroidism. However, there are two main risks of receiving radioactive iodine that you need to be aware of.
Risk #1: You most likely will become hypothyroid for the rest of your life. Any treatment with the word “radioactive” in it should make you think twice about whether or not you should receive it. But when it’s a known fact that this treatment procedure will most likely mean you will become hypothyroid, and thus need to take thyroid hormone for the rest of your life, then you should be even more cautious. While one can argue that having a hypothyroid condition is safer and easier to treat than having hyperthyroidism, it still isn’t an ideal situation to have one’s thyroid gland destroyed.
Even though synthetic or natural thyroid hormone can do a good job of managing your symptoms, it still isn’t the same as the thyroid hormone your own body produces. And for some people, synthetic or natural thyroid hormone doesn’t do a great job of managing their symptoms. So it’s a little bit puzzling when an endocrinologist acts like it’s no big deal to receive radioactive iodine therapy. Once again, some people do really need this treatment method, but too many people receive it who don’t actually need it.
Risk #2: RAI doesn’t do anything for the cause of your condition. You’ll probably agree that it is not normal for your body to produce an excess amount of thyroid hormone. But what most people don’t know is that in most cases of hyperthyroidism, the malfunctioning thyroid gland usually isn’t the actual cause of the disorder. So even if you stop the production of thyroid hormone by damaging or destroying the thyroid with radioactive iodine therapy, this won’t get to the root cause of your disorder.
This is especially true for people who are diagnosed with Graves’ Disease, which is an autoimmune thyroid disorder. With this condition, the immune system component is what is responsible for the malfunctioning thyroid gland. So when someone with Graves’ Disease receives RAI, it will indeed stop the excess production of thyroid hormone, but will do absolutely nothing to strengthen the compromised immune system.
As for other types of hyperthyroidism, while it might not be the immune system that is directly responsible for the overproduction of thyroid hormone, other areas of the body often times cause their condition to develop. Problems with the adrenal glands, digestive system, or a hormonal imbalance are three of the most common reasons people tend to develop these conditions. And by not addressing the actual cause of this disorder, you are more likely to develop other conditions in the future.
What Other Options Do You Have?
Many people with hyperthyroidism are turning towards natural treatment methods, which can potentially restore your health back to normal. When I was personally diagnosed with Graves’ Disease, I strongly considered taking anti-thyroid drugs, but wanted to avoid radioactive iodine therapy at all costs. Being a holistic doctor I of course was aware that there were natural treatment methods out there, but when you’re personally afflicted with such a condition it’s natural to be skeptical as to how effective they will be, which I indeed was.
I ended up not taking the anti-thyroid drugs, followed a natural treatment protocol, and received excellent results. Not only did my symptoms go away, but my lab results also normalized as well, and I feel great to this day. This doesn’t mean that everyone can be helped through natural treatment methods, but when you’re faced with a treatment procedure such as radioactive iodine that can permanently damage your thyroid gland, what do you have to lose by giving natural treatment methods a try?
What if you have already received radioactive iodine therapy?
For those people who have already received radioactive iodine therapy, whether or not a natural treatment protocol can restore your health depends on how much damage RAI caused to your thyroid gland. The body does have an amazing ability to regenerate, so in some cases the thyroid gland is still able to produce enough thyroid hormone on its own when following a natural treatment protocol. For others, the damage is too severe, and they will need to continue taking thyroid hormone for the rest of their lives.
This doesn’t mean that someone who is unable have their health restored back to normal can’t benefit from natural treatment methods. As mentioned earlier, radioactive iodine therapy doesn’t get to the root cause of the problem, and so in many cases a natural treatment protocol will prevent other future conditions from developing. So whether you are thinking about receiving radioactive iodine therapy, or have already received RAI, you still should consider consulting with a natural endocrine doctor.
How Can A Natural Endocrine Doctor Help?
A competent natural endocrine doctor will look for the cause of your condition, and determine if your health can be restored to normal through natural treatment methods. Just like an endocrinologist, a natural endocrine doctor will look at your blood tests, symptoms, and case history. But often times they will use other tests to evaluate different areas of the body, determine if there are any nutritional deficiencies that need to be addressed, etc. Based on their findings they will then put you on a program that is designed not only to restore the function of your thyroid gland, but ultimately cure the cause of your condition, assuming this is possible.
Although finding a competent natural endocrine doctor in your immediate area might be a challenge, the good news is that if you have already been diagnosed by an endocrinologist or another type of doctor, and have received a physical examination, then most natural doctors would be willing to consult with you remotely over the phone. And most people can receive great results by consulting with a natural endocrine doctor in this manner.
In summary, before you receive radioactive iodine therapy, you should strongly consider consulting with a natural endocrine doctor to see if natural treatment methods can help restore your health back to normal. After all, one can always choose to receive radioactive iodine therapy, but on the other hand, those that have already received it won’t be unable to undo the damage caused to their thyroid gland, and will have to hope that their thyroid gland still has enough function left to respond to a natural treatment protocol, or else be faced with the possibility of taking thyroid hormone for the rest of their life.
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