Treatment Options for Cats with Hyperthyroidism
There are currently three treatment options for cats with hyperthyroidism.
The first and perhaps, the most popular is to have your vet administer the proper dose of radioactive iodine to kill the overactive thyroid. The radioactive iodine (RAI) affects the diseased portion of the thyroid leaving the unaffected tissue alone. It is the safest treatment and the one with the fewest complications of the treatment options for cats with hyperthyroidism. A cat will have to be hospitalized for 5-10 days, depending on the rate at which your cat metabolizes the iodine. For the first year periodic rechecks of thyroid and kidney function are necessary after treatment, but generally no further medication is needed.
The second treatment option of the treatment options for cats with hyperthyroidism is the use of medication to try to decrease the amount of thyroid hormone production by the thyroid gland. Medication is usually given twice a day. Most cats will tolerate the medication, however about 20% will have side affects from it. The side affects range from GI disturbances and general malaise most commonly, to blood cell alteration and rarely, liver damage. Because of the potential for side effects, blood checks are necessary on a regular basis.
A third option is surgical removal of the thyroid gland. This is an invasive surgery and is effective. On occasion, there are some serious metabolic consequences that occur after the surgery. About 5% of the time we will encounter problems. A cat that has their thyroid removed will also need periodic rechecks of kidney function after the surgery. The kidneys and liver require thyroid hormone to function properly, hence the need for their monitoring. A cat whose thyroid has been removed may or may not need lifelong medication to replace a normal level of thyroid hormone.
Because administering medication can be a pain in the arse and because the third option of thyroid removal requires invasive(sometimes costly) surgery, RAI remains the most popular treatment option.
Is hyperthyroidism in Humans like hyperthyroidism in cats? No. Cats get lots of hyperthyroidism, but it’s the result mostly of adenomatous nodules, not Graves’ disease. It’s a different process altogether and nothing that links it to the immune system, like in Humans.
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