What is Graves' Disease?
Definition of Graves' Disease: An autoimmune disorder which causes the thyroid, a butterfly-shaped gland in the neck, to overproduce hormones. Grave's disease can affect the whole body. Women are seven to eight times more likely to get Graves' disease than men, according to the NIH. Below is a brief overview of the causes, symptoms and treatments, plus links to more information.
What Causes Graves' Disease? The immune system makes an antibody which, instead of attacking a disease, mimics a hormone that signals the thyroid to start producing hormones. Risk factors for Graves' disease include:
- Being younger than 40.
- Being female.
- A family history of Graves' disease.
- Having some autoimmune diseases.
Is Graves' Disease Contagious? No.
Medical Term: Also known as toxic diffuse goiter.
Signs & Symptoms:
- Anxiety or irritability
- Unexplained weight loss
- Sensitivity to heat
- Irregular heartbeat
- Light or infrequent periods
- Enlarged thyroid gland (goiter)
- Hand tremors
- Thick, red skin on shins or top of feet
- Bulging, irritated eyes
Treatment & Remedies: Antithyroid medicine can prevent the thyroid from overproducing hormones for several years. Some people return to normal thyroid function after taking antithyroid drugs. If not, radioactive iodine treatment to destroy thyroid tissue or surgery to remove the thyroid is also an option. Beta blockers may provide relief Graves' disease symptoms.
- People need to take thyroid hormones on a permanent basis after radioactive iodine treatment or thyroid surgery.
- Untreated Graves' disease can cause brittle bones and heart problems.
- Bulging, irritated eyes caused by Graves' disease may require separate treatment.
- Graves' disease can cause problems during pregnancy if it goes untreated, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services.
Sources and More Information:
- Graves' Disease: Details from MyHealthNewsDaily
- Related Information from the Mayo Clinic
- Related Information from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
- Related Information from the National Institutes of Health
This information is not meant to provide specific medical advice. It is for educational purposes only. We recommend you consult a qualified health care professional for diagnoses and treatment advice, and call 9-1-1 in emergencies.
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