Tags: graves | disease | symptoms | cures | signs of graves disease | graves disease medications

What Is Graves Disease?

Wednesday, 29 Jun 2011 03:41 PM

Graves’ disease is a common type of hyperthyroidism that occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks the thyroid gland in the neck, causing it to produce excess amounts of the hormone thyroxine. High levels of thyroxine lead to an increased metabolic rate, which can affect everything from your mood to how you look.

The disease is found more often in women than in men and although Graves’ can develop at any point in life, it usually begins after age twenty.

Graves’ disease is rarely life-threatening but an early diagnosis is important, as the symptoms of the disease can interfere with a person’s everyday life. There is no cure for Graves’, but treatment will alleviate symptoms and decrease the thyroid’s production of thyroxine.

Symptoms of Graves’ Disease
Doctors do not know what causes a person to develop Graves’ disease. Normally, the immune system works to eliminate viruses, bacteria, and other harmful substances from the body, but in people with Graves’, the immune system malfunctions and attacks the thyroid gland. Instead of destroying the gland, an antibody called thyrotropin receptor antibody, or TRAb, causes an overproduction of the principal thyroid hormone thyroxine.

Typically, Graves’ disease is not life-threatening, but symptoms can be uncomfortable and disruptive to a person’s life. A person with Graves’ may experience:

• Anxiety
• Irritability
• Trouble sleeping
• Sleepiness or fatigue
• A rapid or irregular heartbeat
• Tremors in the hands or fingers
• Increased sweating
• Sensitivity to heat
• Weight loss
• Brittle hair
• An enlarged thyroid gland
• Changes in menstrual cycles
• Frequent bowel movements

Individuals with Graves’ disease may also experience a condition of the eyes known as Graves’ ophthalmopathy. This condition causes the eyeballs to bulge out past their protective orbit due to swollen tissue and muscle behind the eye.

Cigarette smokers are five times more likely than non-smokers to develop the condition, possibly because smoking inhibits the absorption of anti-thyroid medication used to treat Graves’ disease.

Symptoms of Graves’ ophthalmopathy include:

• Excess tearing and a sensation of grittiness in the eye
• Red, swollen, or inflamed eyes
• A widening of the space between the eyelids
• Swollen eyelids
• Sensitivity to light

In some cases, patients may also develop:

• Ulcers on the cornea
• Double vision
• Limited eye movements
• Blurred or reduced vision

Uncommon additional symptoms of Graves’ disease include swelling and reddening of the skin, particularly on the skin and tops of the feet. This is called Graves’ dermopathy.

If you notice any of the symptoms listed above, see your healthcare provider. Seek emergency care if you are experiencing heart-related symptoms such as a rapid or irregular heartbeat.

© 2015 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

PLEASE NOTE: All information presented on Newsmax.com is for informational purposes only. It is not specific medical advice for any individual. All answers to reader questions are provided for informational purposes only. All information presented on our websites should not be construed as medical consultation or instruction. You should take no action solely on the basis of this publication’s contents. Readers are advised to consult a health professional about any issue regarding their health and well-being. While the information found on our websites is believed to be sensible and accurate based on the author’s best judgment, readers who fail to seek counsel from appropriate health professionals assume risk of any potential ill effects. The opinions expressed in Newsmaxhealth.com and Newsmax.com do not necessarily reflect those of Newsmax Media. Please note that this advice is generic and not specific to any individual. You should consult with your doctor before undertaking any medical or nutritional course of action.

Keeping you up to speed on Lifestyle, health, and money-saving tips
Get me on Fast Features
Keeping you up to speed on Lifestyle, health, and money-saving tips
Zip Code:
Privacy: We never share your email.
Follow Newsmax
Top Stories

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

America's News Page
©  Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved