What is Graves Disease?
Anyone with immune malfunction is already aware of the fact that they are likely to develop a few conditions rather than just the one that led to their initial diagnosis, and particularly if they have autoimmune issues. As an example, the patient diagnosed with hyperthyroidism may learn that they also have the condition known as Graves’ disease.
Hyperthyroidism is a problem in the immune system that causes an overproduction in hormones belonging to the thyroid gland. This in and of itself can be very problematic and lead to weight loss and a long list of associated conditions caused by a disruption in normal hormone levels.
Graves Disease is often cause of hyperthyroidism and will result in such symptoms as:
- Extreme anxiety
- Tremors in the hands
- Moist skin
- Extreme weight loss
- Changes in sex drive and reproductive function
- Bowel disorders (usually diarrhoea)
- Graves’ dermopathy or Graves’ opthalmopathy
It is the final two symptoms on the list that often make those with the disorder deeply unhappy. This is because the opthalmopathy causes a very noticeable bulging of the eyes, along with a great deal of discomfort. The condition can also impact the vision.
The dermopathy leads to a thickening of the skin that is very distinct and which leads to a reddening most noticeable along the lower legs and tops of the feet.
What to Do
If you suspect you have hyperthyroidism, or you know you have it and you begin developing signs of Graves disease, it is imperative to visit a medical professional to be examined and tested.
Though it is not necessarily a life-threatening issue, the problems so often associated with hormonal problems can make life very unpleasant. Those with Graves ‘ disease (undiagnosed) may feel that they are just experiencing a bout of sleeplessness or worry, and that the weight loss is attributed to that. However, the long term impact of an untreated issue such as this can be everything from bone loss to depression.
In fact, an issue known as “thyroid storm” can develop and this is a life threatening problem. It can lead to such an acceleration of the thyroid that it can cause a cardiac problem or coma.
Additionally, those with Graves’ disease may find that they experience difficulty getting pregnant or maintaining a healthy pregnancy. The baby may have many problems and slow growth and many mothers with Graves ‘ disease face preeclampsia. Untreated hyperthyroidism substantially increases the risk of preeclampsia, being also higher among women who were hyperthyroid during pregnancy and delivery.
There are also heart problems associated with it because of issues with the rhythm of the heart and its inability to pump blood properly. Finally, bone loss or brittle bones can easily occur with those who have poor calcium absorption due to the hormone issues caused by this condition.
What can you do if you have it? Fortunately, there are many ways to tame an out of control thyroid condition. Some patients can remedy the situation with ongoing regimens of medication known as “anti thyroid” medication. This would be a solution that a physician would have to approve and monitor.
Beta blockers are also a form of medication put to use to control thyroid hormone production. Radioactive iodine therapy is also another type of treatment that can be done orally.
There are surgical remedies as well and removal of the gland gets things back in check – but again this is something that a surgeon must determine. Afterward there will still be a need for medication to manage the issues. The best news, however, is that there are so many treatments available.
If you have questions or concerns about thyroid problems or hyperthyroidism see your local doctor who will arrange for you to see a thyroid surgeon.