What is Graves’ Disease?
As thyroid disorders have become increasingly common, many of us have become familiar with the term hyperthyroidism (the overproduction of thyroid hormones), however we often do not address one of the primary causes of this condition: Graves’ disease.
Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system produces too many thyroid-stimulating immunoglobulins. These antibodies falsely attack healthy thyroid cells instead of a specific pathogen or invader. This leads to the thyroid creating too much thyroid hormone, which results in a state of hyperthyroidism.
What are the Symptoms?
Because the body is attacking the thyroid gland in the case of Graves’ disease, one of the primary symptoms is the inflammation and swelling of the thyroid gland (goiter). Other symptoms include:
- Weight loss
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
- Tremors in the hands or fingers
- Erectile dysfunction
- Reduced libido
- Changes in menstrual cycle
- Difficulty sleeping
It is also important to note that about 30% of people with Graves’ disease suffer from Graves’ ophthalmopathy, which consists of an immune response targeting the muscles and tissues around the eyes. This results in inflammation and symptoms such as:
- Bulging eyes
- Puffy eyelids
- Red or inflamed eyes
- Light sensitivity
- Double vision
- Gritty sensation in the eyes
- Pressure or pain in the eyes
- Vision loss
Graves’ disease can also manifest in the reddening or thickening of the skin, primarily on the shins and feet. These symptoms are called Graves’ dermopathy and are fairly uncommon.
If you are experiencing symptoms of Graves’ disease or are being treated for Graves’ disease and feel you are not getting the help you need, it may be time to find a different doctor and treatment plan. Locating an effective and knowledgeable Graves’ disease physician can seem daunting and unending, but there is hope!
At Holtorf Medical Group, our physicians are trained to provide you with cutting-edge testing and innovative treatments to properly diagnose and treat your condition, optimize your health, and improve your quality of life. Contact us today to see how we can help you!