Graves disease is an autoimmune disorder that occurs when you have an overactive thyroid. Your thyroid released a variety of thyroid hormones but when they are produced excessively, it causes a condition called hypothyroidism. Graves disease is one of the most common causes of hypothyroidism. This results in a number of physical signs and symptoms affecting your metabolism. Many times people simply think they have a big appetite or high metabolism which is why they eat a lot and never gain weight when in fact they have Graves disease.
Causes of Graves Disease
Your thyroid gland is located in the front of your neck behind your voice box. It releases thyroid hormones including triodothyronine and thyroxine which help control metabolism. With controlled metabolism, your body can better regulate your weight, mood, mental and physical energy levels. However if your body has an abnormal innume system response it can cause Graves disease. This disease will then cause too much of the thyroid hormones to be produced which lead to hypothyroidism. It is more common in women over 20 though men can also get the disease.
Symptoms of Graves Disease
A variety of symptoms can lead your doctor to thinking you might have Graves disease. These include anxiety, breast enlargement in men, difficulty concentrating, double vision, eyeballs that extend out, eye irritation or tearing, fatigue, insomnia, frequent bowel movements, goiter, heat intolerance, increased appetite, increased sweating, irregular menstrual periods, muscle weakness, nervousness, shortness of breath after physical activity, tremor, weight loss, restlessness, or a rapid or irregular heartbeat.
Diagnosing Graves Disease
A variety of tests are completed to find out whether or not you have Graves disease. After a physical examination, your doctor may perform a blood test to measure your levels of TSH, do a radioactive iodine uptake, check to see if your thyroid gland is enlarged, do an orbit CT scan, thyroid stimulating immunoglobulin, thyroid peroxidase antibody, or an anti-TSH receptor antibody.
Treating Graves Disease
The main goal of treatment for Graves disease is to try and control the overactive thyroid gland. Medications are often used such as beta-blockers to control the anxiety, sweating, and high blood pressure that are common among people with Graves disease and hypothyroidism. Other treatments include antithyroid medications, radioactive iodine, and surgery or radiation to remove the thyroid hormones, though this is the rarest of cases. While there is no cue for Graves disease, most people respond well to treatment. Occasionally, complications occur with Graves disease such as depression, weight gain or sluggishness. Antithyroid medications can also have more serious side effects.