Coping with Graves' Disease and Hyperthyroidism

Living Well With An Overactive Thyroid and Post-Treatment Hypothyroidism

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Digesting the reality of having an overactive thyroid gland (called hyperthyroidism) and then sorting through the treatment options for Graves' disease is an immense process. Be reassured, though, you can get through this and move forward happily and healthily.  

Here are some tips to help get you started, as you embark on your thyroid journey. 

Find an Endocrinologist to Partner With You

One essential step in coping well with a new diagnosis of Graves' disease is finding the right doctor for your thyroid care.

Once you're hypothyroid and on thyroid hormone replacement (after definitive treatment of your Graves' disease), you may not need an endocrinologist to manage your thyroid condition. At this point, your primary care doctor may be able to take over care. 

Undergo an Eye Evaluation

About 30 percent of people with Graves' disease develop eye disease (called Graves' ophthalmopathy), characterized by eye redness, swelling, and sometimes vision trouble. While generally mild, a small percentage (around 5 percent) have moderate-to-severe eye disease.

If you develop any eye symptoms, be sure to tell your endocrinologist and seek care from a doctor who specializes in eye care (called an ophthalmologist). 

Overcome Fertility, Pregnancy or Breastfeeding Problems

There are special concerns and recommendations for women with Graves' disease who are pregnant, trying to conceive, or breastfeeding.

Be sure you are clear on how Graves' disease may affect pregnancy, breastfeeding, or your fertility, both before and after treatment. In the end, knowledge is power—getting the facts straight (and having a plan in place, if necessary) will help keep your mind at ease. 

Stop Smoking

Smoking has a long list of health dangers, and it poses specific issues for people with Graves' disease. In fact, research shows that smoking may worsen Graves' ophthalmopathy, increase the risk of relapse, and reduce the effectiveness of treatment.

Of course, quitting smoking is no easy feat, but it can be done with the right plan in place.

Manage Your Stress

Simply stated, managing your stress can do wonders for your body and soul, during this potentially overwhelming time. 

Some examples of stress-soothing activities include:

  • Tai Chi
  • Biofeedback therapy
  • Creative treatments like art, music, and dance therapy
  • Prayer
  • Massage
  • Reflexology
  • Self-Hypnosis
  • Meditation and guided imagery
  • Journaling
  • Going for a nature walk
  • Exercise

Get and Give Support

Participating in a support group may help you cope with your newly diagnosed thyroid condition. Whether you are gathering information, seeking out resources, forming friendships, or releasing some stress, a support group can give you the peace of mind that you are not alone in your thyroid journey.

A Word From Verywell

Being newly diagnosed with Graves' disease can be challenging, but the upside is that treatment is nearly always successful. So continue to seek out knowledge, take some deep breaths, and remember to be kind to yourself in the meantime. 

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Article Sources
  • American Thyroid Association. (2017). Graves' Disease.
  • Sawicka-Gutaj N et al. Influence of cigarette smoking on thyroid gland--an update. Endokrynol Pol. 2014;65(1):54-62.