Know more about Graves Disease

Written by Dana Peterson

What is Graves Disease?

Graves Disease is one of the most common and most under-diagnosed conditions in the United States. It is associated with an increased risk of congestive heart failure, excess weight, elevated triglycerides, decreased potassium and calcium levels in the blood, increased free radical activity, and increased proteinases (proteinases are specific types of enzymes). Many of these symptoms are found in people with Hashimoto’s disease who have not had adequate iodine intake before being diagnosed. Graves Disease is usually diagnosed through a blood test that detects the antibody titer level in your blood.

What causes Graves’ disease?

In Graves disease, antibodies produced by your immune system can cause the thyroid to grow and produce excess thyroid hormone. These antibodies are called thyroid-stimulating immunoglobulins (TSI). TSI binds to thyroid cell receptors and is usually a “stop” for thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). Invasive TSI can induce your thyroid to grow and release too much thyroid hormone, leading to hyperthyroidism.

Will Graves’ disease affect my immune system?

Severe disease is an autoimmune disease because it involves your immune system attacking healthy tissues. Like many autoimmune diseases, Graves’ disease is 7-8 times higher than that of men. The reason is not apparent.

Since many genetic and environmental factors seem to be involved, Graves’ inheritance model is still being studied. Although there appears to be a genetic link, researchers do not fully understand the causes of autoimmunity because Graves family cases are often transmitted in families. Therefore, if you have close relatives with Graves disease or have another autoimmune disease, you may increase your risk of Graves disease, although it is not yet clear.

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What are the signs and signs of Graves’ disease?

The early indications of Graves’ disease differ from person to person and are usually confused with other diseases, delaying diagnosis. “Before diagnosis, patients usually notice that they could not tolerate calories, unconsciously lose weight and struggle from heart disease,” said Trevor Angell, MD, assistant professor of medicine and associate director of the Thyroid Research Center at Keck Medical School. The University of Southern California. Common early symptoms include:

  • Despite increased appetite, weight loss. (Unfortunately, even if you tell them to lose weight unintentionally, some doctors may mistakenly suspect an eating disorder.)
  • Anxiety, irritability, and mood swings
  • Restlessness
  • Tremor (involuntary, rapid movements, such as convulsions)
  • Sleep difficulties and sleep disorders (insomnia)
  • Intolerant of high temperature and sweating
  • Chest pain, heart, and fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath and difficulty breathing
  • Increased stool frequency (with or without diarrhea)
  • Irregular or stop period
  • Muscle weakness
  • Difficulty controlling diabetes
  • fatigue
  • Loss of libido or erectile dysfunction
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency

What are the complications of the development of Graves’ disease?

If you even suspect that you may have Graves disease, it is essential to get treatment as soon as possible. “Although Graves does not seem to be a serious problem at first, it can usually become a serious problem in the future. Either way, it will require immediate medical care,” Vanderbilt Thyroid Center Medical Director and Diabetes Assistant Professor Lindsay Bischoff, Ph.D., said, Endocrinology and Metabolism at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

If Graves’ disease is not treated, complications that often occur during its progression include:

1- Goiter: Goiter is an enlarged goiter grown large enough to see a visible bump on the neck. A disease mainly caused by Graves’ disease is called diffuse thyrotoxic goiter. As the thyroid gland becomes larger without treatment, the channel becomes more and more swollen. Sometimes the goiter is enlarged to the point of difficulty swallowing, causing coughing and disrupting sleep.

2- Thyroid eye disease (TED): The eye disease associated with Graves disease is Graves eye disease or Thyroid Eye Disease (TED). This group of symptoms occurs in 30% of Graves’ disease patients and ranges from mild to severe. Less severe (but still troublesome) TED signs include red eyes, watery eyes, a sensation of sand or dust in the eyes, and sensitivity to light.

In more advanced TED cases, one or both of your eyes may bulge or protrude from the eye socket (also called the orbit). Graves’ disease can cause an inflammatory response in your eye muscles, which can swell muscles and tissues. Because of your eye sockets (the bone part of your face that helps keep your eyes in place), your swollen eye muscles and tissues are forced to open outward. If enough swelling occurs, the inflamed eye tissue will have nowhere to go, which will cause the eye to protrude and restrict eye movement by pushing it out of the socket that no longer accommodates the eye socket. This medical term is exophthalmos, which can make you look like you are staring.

3- Thickened skin. Some people with Graves’ disease have thick skin or patchy pink skin lesions on the calves and front of the feet. This is also called edema of the anterior tibial mucosa.

How is Graves’ disease diagnosed?

After you tell the doctor about the symptoms you are experiencing, you can have a comprehensive physical examination and be asked about your medical and family history. Before making an appointment, you may need to check with your family to see Graves’ disease or other autoimmune diseases in your family.

During the visit, your doctor can order any of the following tests:

1- blood test: These tests can help your doctor evaluate your thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) (a pituitary hormone that stimulates your thyroid) and thyroid hormone level. If Graves, usually TSH will be lower than usual, and thyroid hormone levels will be higher. Another blood test can determine the level of antibodies perceived to cause the condition, described thyroid-stimulating hormone receptor antibodies (TRAb).
Uptake of radioactive iodine. Your body employs iodine to produce thyroid hormones. For this test, you will get a small amount of radioactive iodine so that the doctor can measure the rate at which the thyroid absorbs iodine. This will help your doctor determine whether Graves’ disease is the cause of hyperthyroidism or something else.

2- Ultrasound: Your doctor may order you to perform an ultrasound with high-frequency sound waves to produce the thyroid gland’s images. This will show if you have an enlarged goiter, which may be related to Graves disease.

About the author

Dana Peterson

I'm Dana Peterson, a freelance writer, serial blogger, self-published author of 7 books, and speaker who enjoys enlightening others about unknown and little-known facts.

I'm a mother of two kids, but I've also been a typographer, a film composer, a piano player, a singer in an all-girl rock band. I love writing on cruise ships, or late nights, but also at home in my sunny southern California garden.

Follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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