The thyroid is a small gland in our neck that produces hormones which regulate many functions in your body. Having too much or too little thyroid hormone can cause many different symptoms — a condition known as hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, respectively. Graves’ disease is one of the possible causes of hyperthyroidism, and it’s probably more common than you realize.
Keep reading to learn more about Graves’ disease.
Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disorder that affects the thyroid gland, leading to hyperthyroidism. According to the Cleveland Clinic, Graves’ is actually the most common cause of hyperthyroidism, and it can often result in an enlarged thyroid gland. It has been estimated that 1 out of every 100 Americans suffer from Graves’ disease.
As we mentioned above, the autoimmune disorder Graves’ disease is a cause of hyperthyroidism — however, not all cases of hyperthyroidism are caused by Graves’ illness.
Toxic diffuse goiter is another name for Graves’ disease. According to MedlinePlus, other causes of hyperthyroidism can include:
According to the NIH National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, risk factors for Graves’ disease include:
Since women are more likely to develop this disease, Graves’ disease symptoms in females are more common, and they can vary significantly from one patient to the next. However, Graves’ disease symptoms in males can be similar to symptoms in females, and they shouldn’t be overlooked.
According to the Mayo Clinic, Graves’ disease symptoms can include:
It’s important to keep in mind that every patient with Graves’ disease is different, and you don’t have to exhibit all these symptoms.
The exact cause of Graves’ disease is still unknown; however, the disease is thought to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. We do know that certain situations can trigger Graves’ disease symptoms in people who are genetically predisposed. These triggers can include:
According to the American Thyroid Association called thyrotropin receptor antibodies (TRAb) or thyroid stimulating immunoglobulins (TSI). These antibodies are very similar to thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), which tricks the thyroid into producing thyroid hormones in larger than normal quantities.
If left untreated, Graves’ can affect practically any system and organ in your body and cause dangerous consequences, such as:
Graves’ disease itself doesn’t have stages, but Graves’ ophthalmopathy can be divided into stages. This ophthalmopathy causes bulging eyes from Graves’ disease, eye inflammation, and fibrosis. Graves’ ophthalmopathy can be classified in different according to its severity, including:
Yes. Headaches or migraines are a common symptom of Graves’ disease.
By definition, Graves’ disease causes hyperthyroidism rather than hypothyroidism. But if you need to have your thyroid gland removed as part of your treatment, the surgery will likely result in hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism can be managed by taking supplemental thyroid hormones.
As we mentioned above, the exact cause of Graves’ disease isn’t fully understood. However, emotional and/or physical stress can trigger symptoms of the disease in some people.
Thyroid removal is one of the most effective treatments for severe or Graves’ disease, and it typically eliminates the disease altogether. In very rare cases, there can be an overactive thyroid remnant or ectopic thyroid tissue that can continue to cause symptoms after your thyroid is removed.
Yes, Graves’ disease can cause hair loss and shedding in some cases.
Thyroid disorders are a relatively common health problem, but there are other diseases that can affect your health — including STDs now.
Graves’ Disease - my.clevelandclinic.org
Hyperthyroidism - medlineplus.gov
Graves’ Disease - niddk.nih.gov
Graves’ disease - mayoclinic.org
Graves’ Disease - thyroid.org