The thyroid plays a crucial part in running a human body. The thyroid gland is directly responsible for helping run and regulate a great many of the body's systems. It does this by creating many of the hormones the body uses. As long as it is producing the correct amount of hormones, then the thyroid is performing admirably. However, in some situations, a condition or disease can cause the thyroid to either over or under produce the amount needed. Graves’ disease forces the thyroid to over produce hormones.
The elevated levels of hormones due to Graves’ disease means that a number of the body’s systems are affected. There are quite a few different symptoms that can be the result. Creating too much hormone is considered hyperthyroidism. Graves’ disease hypothyroidism is also possible, but incredibly unlikely. Typically, too little hormone from the thyroid is caused by Hashimoto’s disease.
Causes of Graves’ Disease
When it comes to the cause of Graves’ disease, the “why” it affects people is still unknown. The “how” it’s caused however is well known. Graves’ disease actually boils down to being an autoimmune disease. Normally the immune system creates antibodies to stop disease.
In Graves’ disease, the immune system creates a specific antibody. Instead of acting normally, it acts like the regulatory gland of the thyroid. Instead of following the actual production schedule, this antibody overrides the hormone production. In turn, far too much is created.
There are many different risk factors that can play a role as well. Graves’ disease is more likely to start before the age of 40. Women are far more likely to get the disease. People with a family history of Graves’ disease are more likely to get it. People who suffer from high levels of stress, pregnancy or smoke are at a greater risk. Other autoimmune disorders can also increase the risk of getting Graves’ disease.
Symptoms of Graves’ Disease
As mentioned, there are many different symptoms of someone who is suffering from Grave’s disease. Not all of them will be felt by everyone, or have the same level of severity with symptoms. Some of the main symptoms to look out for include:
- Unexpected Weight Loss
- Enlarged thyroid glands
- Altered Menstrual Cycle
- Thick Reddened Skin
- Irregular/Rapid Heartbeats
- Reduced Libido and Erectile Dysfunction.
Many people who suffer from Graves’ disease also suffer from Graves’ ophthalmopathy. People who suffer from this have additional symptoms that deal with the muscles and tissues surrounding the eyes. It can result in eyes feeling gritty, pressured, painful, bulging, reddened or inflamed. The eyelids can sometimes become puffy or retracted. It’s also possible to have light sensitivity, double vision or even vision loss!
Treatment for Graves’ Disease
The goal of treatment is to keep the thyroid from producing so much excess hormone. There are a variety of medications which can be given through prescription. These drugs alter the way thyroids create hormones and reduce the amount produced. There can be many side effects from these medications and can especially damage the liver.
Another common treatment options is the use of radioactive iodine therapy. This therapy requires the person to take radioactive iodine. The thyroid uses iodine to create hormones. With it being radioactive, this causes the thyroid gland to shrink as cells are damaged. In severe cases, a thyroid can be removed surgically. In turn, regular thyroid hormone needs to be taken to make up for that amount lost.
The articles on this website should not be used to start the use of dietary supplements or vitamins, natural or herbal products, homeopathic medicine or other mentioned products prior to a proper consultation with a doctor or certified health provider.