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Your Guide to Graves' Disease

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Is Graves’ Disease Curable? What to Know

Medically Reviewed By Marina Basina, M.D.

Currently, Graves’ disease is not curable. However, many treatments, such as beta-blockers, radioiodine therapy, and thyroid surgery, can help relieve or stop symptoms. Graves’ disease occurs when the immune system damages the thyroid gland. This damage causes an overactive thyroid gland, also known as hyperthyroidism.

Doctors don’t know what causes Graves’ disease, so finding a cure is more challenging. However, treatment options are effective at improving or stopping symptoms of Graves’ disease and hyperthyroidism.

Read on to learn more about the treatment and outlook of Graves’ disease, including how much treatment can help.

Can you cure Graves’ disease?

A close-up of an eye looking at a drop of water splashing.
Tim Paulawitz/Getty Images

Currently, doctors cannot cure Graves’ disease.

However, treatment can improve Graves’ disease symptoms to the point where they go away.

Some of these treatments may cause other symptoms and side effects. Still, these effects are often more manageable or less severe than some Graves’ disease symptoms.

Can you fully recover from Graves’ disease?

Because there is no cure for Graves’ disease and the condition is lifelong, you cannot fully recover from it.

However, some people experience remission Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source , in which Graves’ disease symptoms go away due to treatment. Remission can be temporary but may last years for some people.

A 2023 review of other studies suggests that the amount of proportion that experience remission ranges from 20% to 70% Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source , depending on:

  • the specific study
  • the treatment used
  • the duration of treatment
  • the age of the person

Some people in remission still need to take medication or follow a treatment plan to maintain their condition.

Can you live a long life with Graves’ disease?

It is possible to live a long life with Graves’ disease.

However, the outlook can vary per person and depends on treatment.

Some people develop complications of Graves’ disease that can reduce life expectancy and quality of life, such as:

  • osteoporosis and muscle problems
  • eye problems, also known as Graves’ ophthalmopathy or eye disease
  • fertility problems
  • irregular heartbeat, which may lead to:
    • blood clots
    • stroke
    • heart failure
    • other cardiovascular problems

Still, treatment can help reduce the risk of experiencing severe complications.

What is the treatment for Graves’ disease?

Though Graves’ disease treatments are not a cure, they can help reduce symptoms and improve quality of life.

The following are some of the primary treatment options for Graves’ disease.

Beta-blockers

Beta-blockers help the blood vessels widen or relax.

Though beta-blockers don’t stop hyperthyroidism or lower thyroid hormone levels, they can reduce or stop symptoms such as:

  • tremors
  • nervousness
  • rapid heartbeat

Beta-blockers can stop these symptoms within a couple of hours.

Antithyroid medications

Antithyroid medications mean the thyroid gland makes less thyroid hormone. This help hyperthyroidism symptoms go away temporarily.

However, antithyroid medications may lead to side effects, such as rashes, itching, or higher risk of infection. They can also take weeks or months to lower thyroid hormone levels to within typical ranges.

Radioiodine therapy

Radioiodine therapy uses small doses of radioactive iodine-131 to deliberately destroy thyroid gland cells and stop thyroid hormone production.

You may need a few treatments with radioiodine therapy to help bring your thyroid hormone levels into typical ranges. While you wait for the treatment to work, doctors may prescribe beta-blockers to help with symptoms.

Radiodine may not be for everyone, as it can may eye problems due to Graves’ disease worse.

Also, it almost always causes hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid gland. However, experts suggest hypothyroidism is more easily treatable than hyperthyroidism and is less likely to cause long-term health concerns.

Read more about hypothyroidism, including its symptoms and treatment.

Thyroid surgery

Less often, doctors recommend surgery to remove some or most of the thyroid gland. Surgery can make your thyroid hormone lower to typical levels.

However, thyroid surgery can lead to a medical emergency called thyroid storm, where your symptoms suddenly become severe. Taking antithyroid medications before surgery can help reduce the chances of thyroid storm developing.

You may also develop hypothyroidism after surgery and need to take medication.

Learn more about Graves’ disease treatment options and management.

Graves’ ophthalmopathy

Graves’ ophthalmopathy (GO) is a Graves’ disease complication that leads to eye problems Trusted Source National Eye Institute Governmental authority Go to source such as:

  • proptosis, or bulging eyes
  • eye pain or pressure
  • light sensitivity
  • dry, gritty, or irritated eyes
  • puffy eyes
  • double vision
  • difficulty moving the eyes to look around
  • difficulty closing the eyelids all the way

Smoking or using tobacco products may lead to more severe GO symptoms. Stress can also trigger symptoms.

However, many cases of GO are mild.

Learn more about GO, including its symptoms, causes, and treatment.

Graves’ ophthalmopathy treatment

Similarly to Graves’ disease, there is no cure for GO.

However, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) suggests that many cases of GO go away on their own or with treatment.

Treatment options for GO include:

  • over-the-counter eye drops, gels, or ointments, such as artificial tears
  • prism eyeglasses for double vision
  • eye surgery
  • radiation therapy to reduce swelling
  • prescription medications to reduce swelling, such as:
    • steroids, like prednisone (Deltasone, Prednicot, Rayos)
    • rituximab (Riabani, Rituxan, Truxima)
    • teprotumumab (Tepezza)
  • self-care, such as:
    • avoiding smoking
    • wearing sunglasses outside if you have light sensitivity
    • gently taping the eyes shut while sleeping

Summary

Currently, Graves’ disease is not curable. However, treatments can help significantly reduce symptoms and improve quality of life.

Some of these treatments may lead to other secondary effects, such as hypothyroidism. However, these effects may be more manageable than Graves’ disease.

Talk with your medical team about which treatment may be best for you or if you have questions about the outlook of Graves’ disease.

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Medical Reviewer: Marina Basina, M.D.
Last Review Date: 2024 Jun 19
View All Your Guide to Graves' Disease Articles
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.