What is Graves Disease?
It is an immune system disorder that can lead to hyperthyroidism i.e. overactive thyroid. In layman terms, graves disease causes the thyroid to produce more thyroid hormones than the requirement of the body. Thyroid hormones are the ones that command the usage of energy in every organ. This disease can be commonly observed in women and people more than 40 years old. The treatment aims at reducing the thyroid hormones in the body.
Graves Disease symptoms
Here are some of the grave disease symptoms that can help you to recognize this disease.
- Unconditional weight loss
- Trouble in sleeping
- Feeling nervous or irritated
- Fast and irregular heartbeat
- Intolerance of heat
- Muscle weakness and
- Trembling hands
Some graves’ disease patients also face the problem of Graves’ dermopathy. Graves’ dermopathy is a condition where the skin around the shin area gets reddening. This is a recognizable symptom.
Graves’ disease can affect the eye of the person. Under this condition, your eyelids will be retracted and your eyes will begin to bulge from the socket. As per the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease, 30% of cases suffer from mild Graves’ ophthalmopathy whereas 5% from severe Graves’ ophthalmopathy.
Who is at the risk?
Though anyone can develop Graves’ disease but the factors like family history, pregnancy, age, and other hormonal disorders can contribute to the increase in the risk factor. It mostly affects the middle aged women.
Graves Disease Causes
The researchers and doctors are not yet 100% sure of the graves disease causes. But it is said that the autoimmune disorder can lead to the development of the grave disease. An autoimmune disorder is likely due to the consolidation of genes and viruses (an outside element). The immune system attacks the thyroid that makes it overactive.
How can Graves’ disease be diagnosed?
Graves’ disease diagnosis can be fully confirmed by the endocrinologist . An endocrinologist is a specialized doctor in hormone-related problems. If you witness any of the symptoms mentioned, then you should see the specialist doctor. He will suggest you do some laboratory tests that are also called Graves’ disease tests. Radioactive iodine uptake test (it measures the quantity of iodine collected by the thyroid in blood) can be recommended.
In some cases, the tests like, Thyroid Stimulating Immunoglobulin test, blood test, Thyroid Stimulating Hormone test, and Thyroid scan can be done to diagnose it properly.
Graves’ disease can also be passed through family generations. Therefore a graves’ disease doctor also needs to examine the medical history of your family. Though the occurrence is confirmed after the lab test only.
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How can Graves’ disease be treated?
Graves’ disease treatment includes various options but no one is guaranteed. After going through your medical condition and report, your doctor will suggest the treatment as per your health.
- Antithyroid drugs – Your doctor may prescribe the antithyroid drugs like propylthiouracil. Beta-blockers are also used for the treatment. These medicines don’t prevent the thyroid from producing hormones but reduce the other visible symptoms.
Though it is not a permanent solution, its effect can be long-lasting to some people. Mostly methimazole is suggested. It is also safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women. For the starting 3 months of pregnancy, propylthiouracil is recommended, since methimazole can be harmful to the fetus.
- Radioiodine therapy – Under this therapy, you intake radioactive iodine-131 capsule or syrup. It destroys the cells that overproduce the thyroid hormone. Other body tissues are unaffected.
- Thyroid surgery – A surgery for the removal of the thyroid gland can be done. Surgeries are mostly suggested for pregnant women or people who are allergic to antithyroid medicines.
How can it be prevented?
Presently there is no known way to prevent this disease.