Graves’ disease is an immune system-related disorder that leads to the excessive production of thyroid hormones. The thyroid hormone is produced in a small butterfly-shaped gland in your neck called the thyroid gland. This overproduction of thyroid hormones is known as hyperthyroidism. Going down health’s history lane, a lot of disorders are known to result in hyperthyroidism, but Graves’ disease is one of the most common ones. Thyroid hormones are linked to many systems in the body, and so have a wide range of symptoms. Graves’ disease can affect anybody, but it is mostly developed by women and people who are below the age of 40.
www.bosterbio.com lets us understand the importance of ensuring a quick response to cases of Graves’ disease. According to them, the major goal when handling a patient with Graves’ disease is to reduce hyperthyroidism and discomfort as a result of the symptoms associated with this disease. Also, the use of the BDNF Elisa test can aid the doctor’s diagnosis of the disease.
What happens when Graves’ Disease hits?
When your body suffers from this disease, the immune system produces antibodies called thyroid-stimulating immunoglobulin. These go ahead to cling to the healthy thyroid cells in your body. Once attached, these antibodies can stimulate the thyroid cells to continuously produce thyroid hormone, which in turn leads to overproduction of this hormone. The thyroid hormone affects the way your body uses energy and so is linked to every organ and part of your body. It also controls your heartbeat, body temperature, brain development, and so many other things in the body. For this reason, hyperthyroidism can be fatal if left untreated. Hyperthyroidism may cause the following; depression, weight loss, physical and mental fatigue, anxiety, etc. Here are the symptoms of this autoimmune disorder.
Symptoms of Graves’ Disease
- Goiter (enlargement of the thyroid gland)
- Palpitations (Fast and irregular heartbeat)
- Frequent movement of the bowel
- Weight loss regardless of good eating habits.
- Irritability and Anxiety
- Increased sweating
- Intolerance to heat
- Inability to sleep
- A drastic change in the menstruation cycle
- Enlarged Eyes due to retracting eyelids (Graves’ ophthalmopathy)
- Hand tremors
- Muscle weakness
- Erectile dysfunction
- A few numbers of Graves’ disease patients experience reddened thick skin in their shin area. This is known as Graves’ dermopathy.
Who is at risk?
These factors may leave one at risk of Graves’ disease:
- Gender (Graves’ disease is mostly found in women)
- Heredity (A person’s chance of suffering from Graves’ disease if any of their family members have once suffered it.)
- Presence of other underlying autoimmune diseases such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, etc.
Other diseases that can result from Graves’ disease
If left untreated, people suffering from Graves’ disease could also suffer some of these sicknesses:
- Stroke, heart failure, blood clots, and other heart problems
- Graves’ ophthalmopathy (This can cause severe problems to the eyes)
Through the help of your medical history and physical examination, a doctor can help to narrow down your symptoms to Graves’ disease, especially if you have a family history of the disease.
A laboratory test is used to confirm if you have Graves’ disease. Your doctor may request that you also go for the following tests:
- Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone (TSH) test
- Thyroid ultrasound
- Radioactive Iodine uptake test
- Blood test
- Thyroid-Stimulating Immunoglobulin (TSI) test
Graves’ disease can be treated following three available treatment options. They are:
- Use of antithyroid drugs
- Radioiodine therapy
- Thyroid gland surgery
Depending on what your doctor thinks is great for you, he or she can suggest one or more of the aforementioned treatment options
Use of Antithyroid drugs
This involves the use of drugs such as; propylthiouracil, methimazole, or beta-blockers for the treatment of Graves’ disease and reduction of effects of the symptoms.
This is the most used treatment for Graves’ disease in the United States. However, doctors are beginning to use drugs more often recently as things such as age, pregnancy, and underlying autoimmune diseases are considered during treatment. Radioiodine therapy involves the ingestion of a higher dose of radioactive-131 capsule or liquid. This dose slowly destroys the cells responsible for the overproduction of thyroid hormones.
Thyroid Gland Surgery
This is the least used approach to treating Graves’ disease. However, this option is used when all other treatment options are exhausted; the patient has a very large goiter and for pregnant women who have side effects when they take the medications. When the thyroid gland is removed, the patient suffers from hypothyroidism and will have to take thyroid hormone drugs every day of their lives.
Graves’ disease might seem mild but must not be disregarded as it can escalate to other life-threatening conditions. Always seek the advice of a doctor before taking drugs or going for tests.