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Hyperthyroidism in Children: Care Instructions

Front view of the thyroid

Your Care Instructions

Hyperthyroidism means that the thyroid gland makes too much thyroid hormone. A high thyroid level can cause a child to be hot and sweaty or to lose weight. It also may cause a fast heart rate. Your child may be very active but tire quickly. The disease often makes children feel very nervous. This makes it harder for a child to stay focused on tasks or to sleep.

Graves' disease is a common cause of high thyroid levels. It almost always needs treatment. Thyroiditis can also cause thyroid levels to rise. It usually goes away on its own.

Hyperthyroidism can be a serious disease. But most of the time children do well after they start treatment.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Make sure your child sees the doctor often until thyroid levels are in the normal range.
  • Have your child take his or her medicine as prescribed. Be sure to give it each day at the same time. Call your doctor or nurse advice line if you think your child is having a problem with his or her medicine.
  • The disease can make your child's eyes sore. Using artificial tears or prescribed eyedrops may help. Sunglasses help to protect your child's eyes from dryness, wind, and sun.
  • Avoid soda and other drinks with caffeine. Caffeine can raise the heart rate. It can also make your child more nervous and grouchy.
  • Your child may need to gain weight. If so, ask your doctor about special diets and activity.
  • Make sure your child gets enough calcium. Foods such as milk, yogurt, cheese, and dark green vegetables may help.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your child passes out (loses consciousness).

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child is confused or has a fever, a fast heartbeat, vomiting, or heavy sweating.
  • Your child has side effects from thyroid medicine. These include a skin rash, a headache, nausea, a fever, and feeling grouchy or nervous.
  • Your child has symptoms of a low thyroid level (hypothyroidism). These include feeling confused, very sleepy, depressed, cold, constipated, or weak.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.