Testing & Diagnosis for Hyperthyroidism in Children

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Tests

How is hyperthyroidism diagnosed?

If your doctor suspects your child may have an overactive thyroid gland, she will start the diagnostic process with a complete medical history, followed by a physical exam. ??Some of the signs that may point to hyperthyroidism are a rapid heartbeat, eye changes, excessive weight loss and overactive reflexes. To confirm a diagnosis of hyperthyroidism, your doctor will typically:?

  • check levels of your child’s thyroid hormone and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) with a blood test
  • measure the level of thyroid-stimulating antibodies in the blood
  • perform thyroid imaging studies, such as a thyroid scan.
Did you know?
A thyroid scan is a nuclear medicine test that allows your child's doctor to determine the size, shape, function and position of her thyroid gland. Read more.

Treatment and care

There are three types of treatment for hyperthyroidism: antithyroid drugs, radioactive iodine and surgery. ?
Antithyroid drugs work by blocking the thyroid glands ability to make thyroid hormone. These drugs to not damage the thyroid gland.

Radioactive iodine is absorbed by the thyroid gland, causing it to shrink. This destroys part of the thyroid gland but does not affect other parts of the body. Your child may need medication to replace the thyroxine that is no longer produced.

Surgery, or removal of part of the thyroid gland, is a rare form of treatment and will require lifelong treatment with medication to replace levels of thyroid hormones.  

In infants with neonatal Graves’ disease, treatment with antithyroid drugs is temporary and is continued until the mother’s thyroid-stimulating antibodies have been cleared from the baby’s circulation.

Looking for more information about thyroid disease?
Visit the American Thyroid Association’s web site for comprehensive information about all types of thyroid conditions.
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