What is Graves Disease?
Graves Disease is an autoimmune disease in which your thyroid gland is in a overactive state. This autoimmune response causes your immune system to attack this gland as a foreign invader. This causes the gland to begin pumping too many hormones throughout your body.
This is the most common cause of Hyperthyroidism. To be clear, just because you are Hyperthyroid does not mean you have Graves.
Some of the symptoms can be:
Although this is not a full list of symptoms this gives you an basic understanding of the types of symptoms patients feel.
Another symptom that some but not all patients may experience may be Graves Ophthalmopathy. When this occurs you may feel discomfort or scratchiness in your eyes which can by accompanied by bulging eyes. Many people wonder what causes Graves and why certain people get it while others do not. There are a few factors that can contribute such as stress or if you have another autoimmune disease.
Blood tests that doctors can perform are the Free T4 and Free T3. If these test are higher than normal and if your TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) test is lower than normal this can indicate you may have Graves Disease. Another test your doctor may perform may be the radioactive iodine uptake test. This test indicates whether you have higher levels of iodine than normal.
Treatment usually consists of:
Antithyroid Drugs-These drugs interfere with over production occurring by inhibiting the production of hormones.
Radio Active Iodine-Radio active iodine destroys some of the cells that produce these hormones. This is usually taken in a capsule or liquid form and is absorbed mostly by your thyroid gland. This process usually takes weeks and you will be monitored by your doctor during that time.
Thyroidectomy-This surgery is performed to remove some or all of your gland. It is important to note that you may develop hypothyroidism as a result of having this surgery.
When diagnosed and with the correct treatment most patients have a positive prognosis. Left untreated however, patients can experience the symptoms listed above as well as a thyroid storm. This can occur when you are under stress or are ill and is a severe complication.
Are you eating the right foods?
Another item to consider is how and what you are eating. Many Graves patients feel best eating a certain kind of diet that includes whole foods. This may be worth exploring as I have found that eliminating certain foods and adding in other foods has made a tremendous change in how I feel.
Diligent monitoring of your Graves Disease is extremely important. Many patients go into remission and feel great for awhile sometimes for years at a time. And then all the sudden they begin experiencing symptoms again such as hair loss that can be quite debilitating. This causes anger and frustration in many patients. When you feel good for awhile that becomes your normal and then you are thrust back into the world of just hanging on and trying to function in your day to day life with all of these symptoms.
Don’t let your Graves Disease take over! Be in charge of your health and your life.