The Main Symptoms and Treatments for Graves’ Disease

The Main Symptoms and Treatments for Graves’ Disease

Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disorder that causes hyperthyroidism, the overproduction of thyroid hormones. Because the thyroid influences many other functions, hyperthyroidism leads to a range of serious symptoms that vary for each person. In many cases, this condition causes the body’s functions to speed up. This can affect metabolism, brain development, breathing, heart functions, body temperature, strength, skin dryness, menstrual cycles, weight, and cholesterol levels. According to the National Institutes of Health, Graves’ disease affects more than 10 million Americans. In addition, it’s five times more common among women than for men. Read on to learn more about how Graves’ disease manifests and what you can expect if you’ve been diagnosed.

The Main Symptoms and Treatments for Graves' Disease

Common Signs and Symptoms
Those with Graves’ disease typically experience a combination of symptoms that may include:
-Anxiety or irritability
-Hand tremors
-Sensitivity to heat and increased sweating
-Unexplained weight loss, even if eating habits have not changed
-Enlarged thyroid
-Change in $exual function
-Disrupted menstrual cycle
-Frequent bowel movements
-Irregular heartbeat.

In addition, about 30 percent of people with Graves’ disease experience Graves’ ophthalmopathy, which affects the tissues around the eyes. Symptoms of Graves’ ophthalmopathy include:
-Bulging eyes
-A gritty sensation
-Pain or pressure
-Swollen eyelids
-Red eyes
-Double vision
-Vision loss

RELATED ARTICLE: 7 Early Signs of Grave’s Disease And How You Can Treat It Naturally

A less common related condition, Graves’ dermopathy, manifests with red, thickened skin (primarily on the lower legs and feet).

Diagnosis of Graves’ Disease
Are you experiencing unexplained symptoms like those above? If you think you might have Graves’ disease, your doctor will perform a physical examination and take a blood sample. This checks for lower than normal levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and higher than normal levels of thyroid hormones. If hyperthyroidism is detected, a test called radioactive iodine uptake is conducted to determine whether Graves’ disease is the cause. Certain people are at higher risk for developing this condition. This includes:
-Women, especially anyone who has recently given birth
-Those younger than age 40
-People with a family history of Graves’ disease
Those who have another autoimmune disorder
-Those who smoke
-Anyone who is under physical or emotional stress

Treatment Options for Graves’ Disease
Though Graves’ disease can lead to serious complications, it is usually treatable with a range of available options. Many people with this condition are prescribed radioactive iodine, which destroys the overactive thyroid cells when taken over time. This is usually taken along with another anti-thyroid drug. Beta blockers are often prescribed to limit the physical effects of the excess hormones. If these treatments are not effective, you may need to undergo surgery to remove all or part of the thyroid. Graves’ ophthalmology can often be controlled with eye drops, though corticosteroids or other treatments are sometimes needed to limit symptoms.

Causes of Graves’ Disease
Experts currently don’t know why Graves’ disease occurs. However, scientists suspect that its development is linked to genes, $ex hormones, stress, pregnancy hormones, and/or infection. More research is needed to determine the extent of these causes, which may lead to more effective treatments.

Effect on Pregnancy
While a woman with Graves’ disease can become pregnant, extra steps are needed to keep her and her baby healthy. Make sure that your illness is well-controlled before getting pregnant. Uncontrolled Graves’ disease can lead to preeclampsia, preterm birth, placental abruption, miscarriage, low birth weight, and stillbirth. If you’ve been treated for Graves’ disease with radioactive iodine, you will need to discontinue treatment at least six months before conceiving. During pregnancy, you’ll be monitored regularly by both a OB/GYN and an endocrinologist. These providers can look for signs of complications and make sure that your thyroid hormones are at a safe level.

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