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All About Graves’ Disease

By ChemistsWorld On 03 May 2021

Graves’ disease is the primary cause of hyperthyroidism or high thyroid hormone secretion. It is one of the common thyroid issues that one in 200 people has to deal with worldwide. Being an immune system disorder, Graves’ disease is common for women under the age of 40 by attacking the thyroid gland to produce excessive thyroid hormones. But it could affect anyone from the age of 30 to 50, with seven to ten chances to affect women more.

From the time of the disease named after Sir Robert Graves’s remembrance in the nineteenth century, there are many treatments for Graves’ disease. But if untreated for a long time, it may lead to many complications that may even cause death. Hence check out all about Graves’ disease, including its symptoms, causes, complications, and treatment for Graves’ disease.

Symptoms of Graves’ Disease

Graves’ disease has many common symptoms that cause hyperthyroidism or excessive thyroid hormone secretion to cause many complications. A few of the symptoms include.

• Irregular heartbeat
• Increasing bowel movements
• Diarrhea
• Goiter
• Shaky hands
• Intolerance to heat
• Having trouble to speak
• Improper sleep
• Irritability or nervousness
• Losing weight
• Weak muscles to cause frequent tiredness
• Period changes for women
• Erectile dysfunction for men
• Losing the sex drive or low libido
• Reddish thickening of the skin on the shins

Causes of Graves’ Disease

Even after two centuries after the finding of Graves’ disease in the nineteenth century, there is still uncertainty of its causes. Many researchers have done studies on the causes of this autoimmune disorder so far. The findings show that the immune system makes an antibody known as TSI or thyroid-stimulating immunoglobulin that attaches to the thyroid cells. It acts similar to TSH or thyroid-stimulating hormone that is made by the pituitary gland in the brain that informs the thyroid gland to secrete hormones.

TSI sends false signals for the thyroid gland to secrete an excessive hormone to form Graves’ disease to cause hyperthyroidism. These excess hormones increase the metabolism rate to raise the speed of converting food into energy. It causes weight loss, sweating, trembling, racing heartbeat, among other symptoms. Studies confirm that identical twins have more chances to have Graves’ disease if one has it. Also, smokers are more affected with eye problems by Graves’ disease than non-smokers.

Researchers found that this disorder may be a combination of both genes and outside triggers like viruses. Also, the findings confirm that no single gene causes Graves’ disease but is triggered by genetics and environmental factors. But people with other autoimmune diseases have more chances of developing Graves’ disease than others. A few of them include.

• Type 1 diabetes
• Rheumatoid arthritis
• Lupus
• Pernicious anemia
• Celiac disease
• Vitiligo
• Addison’s disease

Complications of Graves’ Disease

If untreated after showing symptoms, Graves’ disease may lead to the following, among other complications.
• Blood clots, stroke, heart failure, and other heart-related issues
• Osteoporosis or thinning of bones
• GO, or Graves’ ophthalmopathy, or Graves’ orbitopathy may cause eye pain, double vision, light sensitivity, and even vision loss.
• Exophthalmos is a thyroid eye disease that makes the eye muscles and tissues swollen for the eyelids, unable to protect eyes to cause long periods of inflammation.
• Pretibial Myxedema or Graves’ dermopathy which is a rare skin issue causing reddish thickening of the skin

Treatment for Graves’ Disease

Treatment is two ways for Graves’ disease, which includes stopping the thyroid gland from producing hormones. The next one is to stop the problems caused by the excessive thyroid hormone to the body. There are many treatments available for Graves’ disease and include

• Radioactive therapy to kill few cells in the thyroid gland to stop excess production of thyroid hormone
• Antithyroid therapy is many medications that reduce excess hormone production.
• Beta-blockers help only to reduce symptoms until the other treatments become effective.
• Thyroid surgery is rare but essential in case of having a goiter.

The above details about Graves’ disease will help people be aware of it to save a lot of health issues and live happily.