Drugs Home > PTU

PTU, an older medicine used to treat hyperthyroidism, works by inhibiting an important step in the production of thyroid hormones. The prescription drug comes in tablet form and is generally taken three times a day. Side effects can include headache, dizziness, and nausea. In addition, it carries a serious risk of liver damage, so this medication is only used in certain cases.

What Is PTU?

PTU (propylthiouracil) is a prescription antithyroid medication used to treat an overactive thyroid (known medically as hyperthyroidism). Because of the risk of serious liver problems with PTU, it is usually reserved only for use in people who are allergic to or cannot tolerate methimazole (Tapazole®), a safer antithyroid medication, or for women in the first trimester of pregnancy.
(Click What Is PTU Used For? for more information, including possible off-label indications.)

Side Effects of PTU

As with any medicine, side effects are possible with PTU. Not everyone who takes the drug will experience problems. However, due to the risk of serious side effects (especially liver problems), this medication is usually avoided except in certain circumstances.
Some of the possible side effects seen with PTU include but are not limited to:
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Hair loss
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain.
(Click PTU Side Effects to learn more, including potentially serious problems you should report immediately to your healthcare provider.)
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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