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When Is Radioactive Iodine REALLY Necessary?

I talk a great deal about the risks of receiving radioactive iodine treatment on this website.  In many of the articles and posts I have written, I have discussed how natural treatment methods can potentially restore the health of people with hyperthyroidism and Graves’ Disease, thus making it unnecessary for these people to receive RAI.  I’ve also mentioned how radioactive iodine treatment should be the last resort in most cases, although there of course are exceptions to this.

So when is RAI really necessary to receive?  Here a two of the primary situations when radioactive iodine might truly be necessary:

1. When Every Other Treatment Option Has Failed. In most cases, people with hyperthyroid conditions should choose to take antithyroid drugs to manage the symptoms before receiving radioactive iodine therapy.  Although these prescription drugs won’t cure hyperthyroidism or Graves’ Disease, they usually do a good job of managing the symptoms, and sometimes will put a person into a state of remission, although most of the time this is temporary.  But this option is definitely better than obliterating your thyroid gland.

I of course recommend natural thyroid treatment methods to people, as this is the option I personally chose when I was diagnosed with Graves’ Disease.  Although not everyone can be cured through natural treatment methods, many people can have their health restored back to normal.  It admittedly is a challenge to follow such a protocol, which is a big reason why some people choose antithyroid drugs, and even RAI.  After all, it’s much easier to take medication daily than to follow a natural treatment protocol.  But when you think about how important the thyroid gland is to your health, it is well worth making the “sacrifice” to restore your health back to normal.

If you have taken antithyroid drugs for a prolonged period of time and taking them failed to put you into a permanent state of remission, AND then you followed a natural treatment protocol, and after taking this approach you still experienced moderate to severe hyperthyroid symptoms, then in this situation it might be necessary to receive radioactive iodine treatment.  Of course before choosing RAI I would hope that you would have followed the full recommendations of the holistic doctor you were consulting with.  One problem is that we live in an impatient society, and many people who follow a natural thyroid treatment protocol expect quick results.  And while one frequently notices changes in the symptoms after a short period of time, it will usually take months to completely eliminate a person’s symptoms.  And it will most likely take even longer until the blood tests normalize.

2. In Certain Cases Of Thyroid Cancer. Some people with thyroid cancer will need to receive radioactive iodine therapy.  But how does someone with thyroid cancer know if it is truly necessary to receive RAI?  Well, this is a situation that most holistic doctors probably would stay away from, as I personally wouldn’t attempt to use natural treatment methods to cure thyroid cancer.  So what I would recommend is to seek the opinion of a second, or even a third endocrinologist to be certain of the original diagnosis.

Just remember that even if radioactive iodine is necessary, this still doesn’t correct the cause of the problem.  Whether someone developed primary hyperthyroidism, Graves’ Disease, or thyroid cancer, there still were factors which led to the development of these conditions.  This is why it’s not a bad idea for someone who received RAI to consult with a holistic doctor.  Frequently such people are just told to take thyroid hormone for the rest of their life after receiving RAI.  This sometimes does a great job of managing the symptoms, but many people still have moderate to severe symptoms, even when taking this medication.  Just remember that RAI doesn’t do anything for the immune system component of Graves’ Disease, doesn’t address weak adrenal glands which may be an issue, and definitely don’t correct any existing imbalances of the steroid hormones, which also can play a role in thyroid conditions.

In summary, there are definitely situations when someone needs to receive radioactive iodine treatment.  I realize it can be tough to make a decision when an endocrinologist tells you that RAI is necessary.  But one shouldn’t take obliteration of their thyroid gland lightly.  As a result, if a doctor recommends that you receive radioactive iodine treatment and you’re not sure if this is the right decision, consider what I discussed, and if necessary, receive a second, and even a third opinion.  After all, you only have one thyroid gland, and you want to do everything you can to keep it if at all possible.