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Graves disease: causes, symptoms and treatment

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

The thyroid is a gland located in the lower part of the neck, below the Adam’s apple and in front of the windpipe. Its main function is the production of thyroid hormones, in addition to their storage to be released later. In turn, these hormones are responsible for regulating the body’s metabolism and the functioning of the organs, as well as weight, memory, cholesterol, energy production, among other functions. Sometimes, people present alterations in said gland, which can lead to diseases, as is the case with Graves’ disease, that is why in the following FastlyHealarticle we will explain in detail everything you need to know about the Graves disease: causes, symptoms and treatment.

What is Graves disease

Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disease that disrupts the thyroid’s production of hormones and affects the way the body uses energy. It is a disease that people between 20 and 50 years of age suffer more frequently, being more common in the female sex and in people with a family history of this alteration.

The diagnosis for this disease is made with the physical examination and the presence of the symptoms that will be mentioned later, it will also be corroborated with laboratory tests, which show the amount of thyroid hormone and, sometimes, the use of the scintigraphy to see if the thyroid is overactive.

Causes of Graves disease

This pathology has as its main cause its condition of being autoimmune, this means that the body begins to produce antibodies that go against the thyroid gland and cause its production of hormones to increase, this being the origin that some people suffer from hyperthyroidism , although Currently the reason why this occurs remains unknown.

Other possible causes of Graves’ disease are genetic predisposition, viral infections, and in other cases, external factors.

Symptoms of Graves disease

People with Graves’ disease mainly present the hyperthyroidism triad consisting of: the presence of goiter (an enlargement of the thyroid gland), exophthalmia (propulsion of the eye cell) and tachycardia .

In addition, young people have symptoms such as the following:

  • Anxiety.
  • Sleeping problems.
  • Fatigue.
  • Difficult to focus.
  • Hair loss.
  • In the case of men, there may be an increase in the breasts.
  • In the case of women, there may be irregular menstrual periods.

Other very common symptoms of Graves’ disease are increased appetite, weight loss, increased sweating and heat, irritability, constant mood swings, and shortness of breath.

In other cases, such as in elderly people , they may have rapid heartbeat, chest pain or tightness, fatigue, tremors, and memory loss.

Grave’s disease is characterized by presenting eye problems , which produces an inflammation at the level of the tissues around the eyes, in addition to the exophthalmia mentioned above, which leads to their irritation. The cause of these problems is unknown.

In general, patients with eye disorders should go to the specialist doctor in these cases such as the ophthalmologist, in addition to consulting with the endocrine doctor who will be in charge of diagnosing the disease.

All of these symptoms will aid the doctor in the diagnosis during the physical examination.

Graves disease treatment

Treatment for Graves’ disease consists of two phases , the first to control overactive thyroid and the second, eye treatment.

In the case of overactive thyroid, the best treatment is antithyroid drugs , the most widely used is methimazole, which is responsible for controlling the condition. Another common treatment is beta-blocker medications , which help control increased heart rate, sweating, and anxiety.

The use of radioactive iodine is also an option, which should be administered in amounts greater than those used during the uptake test. It will be administered orally and will act on the thyroid tissue, curing the present problem, but causing damage to it, so it will be necessary to consume thyroid hormones in pills.

In advanced cases , surgery may be considered , which involves the removal of the thyroid gland. This operation has a permanent solution to the problem, however it carries risks and requires the same administration of thyroid hormones in pill permanently, that is why it is not recommended unless the treatments mentioned above do not work.

In Graves’ disease, eye problems also need to be treated, and this can be done with the following therapy:

  • Mainly, the use of Prednisone , which is a steroid drug that is responsible for inhibiting the immune system and, thanks to this inhibition, inflammation and irritation are reduced.
  • Dry eyes should be avoided and kept hydrated with eye drops , in addition to covering the eyes with sun glasses. However, sometimes eye problems get better with thyroid treatment and get worse with the use of iodine.

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Graves’ disease: causes, symptoms and treatment , we recommend that you enter our Immune system category .

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