What is Graves’ Disease?

According to Mayo Clinic, Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disease that results in hyperthyroidism – overproduction of thyroid hormones.

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland on your neck and is responsible for regulating your body’s metabolism. This is a big deal, because when you’re thyroid is not working, it’s no bueno. In the case of Graves’ Disease the overproduction of thyroid hormones leads to a ramped up metabolism. Common symptoms include: Increased heart rate, heat intolerance, insomnia, weight loss, excessive hunger and increased bowel movements. It’s like your body is constantly running a marathon, 24/7, and it feels like there is nothing you can do to stop it.¬†To say it’s physically and emotionally draining is an understatement.

These symptoms are very dangerous and could result into a visit to the intensive care unit. If you have any of the symptoms mentioned above, please see a doctor immediately.

While hyperthyroidism can be caused by other things and not necessarily Graves’, it’s important that your doctor take the right steps to get to a diagnosis. Graves’ Disease can only be confirmed by: low TSH, high levels of T4 and T3 hormones AND a radioactive iodine uptake¬†scan (a scan that measures how much iodine your thyroid absorbs) along with the presence of TSI and TRAb antibodies (although the antibodies may not necessarily be present.)

Some people may also have eye symptoms, such as protruding eyes, swollen or retracted eyelids, redness and itchy eyes. That’s because the antibodies that cause the overproduction of hormones, also attack the eyes.

Graves’ is a very common disease, as there are 3 million cases a year in the U.S. But it’s one of those things you’ve never heard of. It was only when I was diagnosed, that I found out that two other people in my office also have it, and almost everyone I’ve mentioned it to, knows someone who’s been affected by it.

Graves’ cannot be cured, but the hyperthyroidism is treatable through anti-thyroid medication (temporary fix), radioactive iodine ablation (this was the best course of treatment for me, I’m getting it done in two days and I’ll make sure to write about it here), and surgical removal of the thyroid, known as a thyroidectomy.

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I am not a doctor and the content on this blog is not medical advice. This is simply my experience with Graves Disease, and all thoughts expressed on this blog are my opinions. Please consult a doctor if you think you have Graves Disease or prior to taking any action that may affect your outcome with Graves Disease. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.

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