Graves' Disease is an autoimmune disorder that results in too much production of hormones in the thyroid (hyperthyroidism).
Thyroid hormones affect a great number of systems in the body, so there is a wide range of symptoms of Graves' that can significantly impact ones overall well-being.
What causes Graves' Disease?
Graves' is caused by an immune system malfunction. The body produces an antibody to a portion of the cells in the thyroid gland. This antibody acts like it is a regular pituitary gland. It overrides the normal mechanics of the thyroid, causing the thyroid to produce too many hormones.
Symptoms of Graves' Disease
-Sensitivity to heat
-Thyroid gland becomes enlarged
-Decreased sexual libido
What is Graves' opthalmopathy?
It is estimated that 30% of the individuals who have Graves' disease have something called Graves' Ophthalmopathy. In this disorder, individuals experience inflammation and a series of internal symptoms that cause the eyes to bulge. Eye sight and increased pain in the eye are also experienced.
What is Graves' dermopathy
Although rare, this type of Graves' Disease can occur. Symptoms may include reddening and thickening of the skin on your shins and the tops of your feet.
Risk factors for Graves' Disease
-Women are much more likely to develop this disease.
-Individuals under 40 years of age.
-Individuals afflicted with other autoimmune diseases.
Testing and diagnosis for Graves' Disease.
In order to accurately diagnose someone with Graves' Disease, your doctor will conduct a physical exam. He or she will check your eyes and thyroid. Your doctor will order blood tests, checking your TSH levels. The doctor will also be looking at the levels of a certain antibody that is known to cause Graves' Disease.
Other tests may include:
-Radioactive iodine uptake
How is Graves' Disease treated?
The goals for treatment is to restrain the production of hormones and also to block the effect of the hormones from impacting the body.
Treatments may include:
-Radioactive iodine therapy
If you suspect that you might have Graves' Disease, contact your doctor right away.