Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disorder where the thyroid gland produces an excess of specific hormones. The patient will often experience complications with their eyesight once this disease has developed. This autoimmune disorder is where the immune system attacks its own host — you. Read on to learn more about the Graves’ disease, its symptoms, causes, and how to beat it.
What You Should Know About the Dangerous Graves’ Disease
In this article:
What Is Graves’ Disease
Graves’ disease occurs when the immune system produces an excess of antibodies, specifically the thyrotropin receptor antibody (TRAb). The TRAb is similar to the thyroid simulation hormones (TSH) which help in regulating the amount of triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4).
Meanwhile, an increase in TRAb results in an increased demand of both the T3 and T4. As a result, the thyroid produces too much of the T3 and T4 hormones and eventually overworks itself. An overabundance of these hormones causes the immune system to burn nutrients at a faster rate. As such, this leaves the body with lesser nutrients to absorb. Overall, these conditions combined will ultimately lead to hyperthyroidism.
One of the most negative effects of Graves’ disease lies in ophthalmopathy, wherein the patient faces multiple eye complications. Victims of this disease may experience swelling, inflammation, and even scarring in and around the eye socket. Additionally, these symptoms could restrict the patient from being able to close their eyes. As such, this leaves the cornea unprotected and will eventually cause it to dry up. Moreover, there were several severe cases where the damages of ophthalmopathy are permanent.
Most mild disorders of Graves’ ophthalmopathy disappear on their own after 1 to 4 months. Graves’ ophthalmopathy may also be treated with anti-thyroid drugs. But it can get worse if the thyroid hormone levels are out of balance.
Patients’ may require immunosuppressants, corticosteroid medicines, or radioactive iodine therapy if they’re suffering from severe inflammation of the tissues and muscles around the eyes. Clients can also opt for surgery if they have nerve damage or serious thyroid eye disease.
Thyroid acropachy is the severe indication of autoimmune thyroid disease and is almost always associated with Graves’ disease and thyroid dermopathy. It’s usually seen only in patients with moderate to severe thyroid eye disease.
Most patients don’t recognize symptoms of thyroid acropachy, which includes clubbing, joint pain (especially small joints), swelling of the fingers and toes, and high thyroid stimulating antibody hormone. However, during clinical examinations, experts duly noted these symptoms.
Treatment for thyroid acropachy includes intravenous immunoglobulin therapy, intralesional injections of corticosteroids, local corticosteroid therapy, and surgical excision.
Graves’ disease comes with multiple symptoms but its most common symptom feature is intense swelling and bulging of the eyes. This is caused by increased pressure and swelling due to inflammation within the eye socket. Additionally, this disease restricts the function our body’s antibodies. As such, other symptoms include:
- Muscle pain and Weakness
- Increased Appetite
- Rapid or Irregular Heartbeat
- Heat Intolerance
- Diarrhea or frequent bowel movements
- Change in menstrual cycle
- Erectile dysfunction or reduced libido
In cases where Graves’ disease is left untreated, physical symptoms and signs may occur. The known physical symptoms and signs of Graves’ disease are the exophthalmic goiter, eye disease (ophthalmopathy), and skin thickening.
Graves’ disease often develops in patients who have ignored proper treatment even after experiencing some of these symptoms. In fact, this autoimmune disease is one of the most difficult disorder to diagnose because it often hides behind symptoms.
Other causes of Graves’ disease include toxic multinodular goiter and inflammatory disorders of the thyroid called thyroiditis. Taking excessive quantities of thyroid hormone preparations can also cause Graves.
We highly suggest consulting your local physician if you begin to experience some of these issues. Furthermore, it is always best to do research on various thyroid disorders and issues. We can overcome this disorder by removing the veil of ignorance surrounding Graves’ disease.
Early detection and medication of Graves’ disease are vital, as it can have harmful effects on the bone structure, eyes, and heart function. Thyroid eye disease (TED) is a disorder associated with Graves’ disease and every patient must know and understand it. Dysthyroid optic neuropathy is a rare but the most feared complication of TED.
Despite the severity of Graves’ disease, this disorder can be remedied even after complications have developed. Listed below are some methods you should consider if you are trying to overcome Graves’ disease.
- Radioiodine Therapy — this treatment slowly and accurately eliminates thyroid cells to reduce the production thyroid hormones. This is one of the most favored and popular treatments among the multiple methods. In fact, physicians have been clinically using radioiodine therapy for more than five decades.
- Partial Thyroidectomy — this procedure involves removing a portion of the thyroid gland in order to regain hormonal balance. As such, this restricts the gland’s ability to produce hormones. However, this surgical option is limited to pregnant women or people who cannot undergo radioiodine therapy.
- Supplements — the patient may opt to take supplements and anti-thyroid medications if they simply want to help speed up the recovery process. Supplements such as selenium help eliminate antibodies and reduce swelling/inflammation. Additionally, L-carnitine and Vitamin D can be beneficial to recovering patients. Consider taking an all-natural supplement that contains the perfect blend of ingredients that help target each thyroid symptom.
Watch this video by But ya Don’t Look Sick to learn more about the signs and symptoms of Graves’ disease:
To conclude, Graves’ disease is one of the early stages of hyperthyroidism and can lead to even more complications later. We strongly advise you to consult a professional if any of the symptoms occur. Let’s overcome Graves’ disease and other autoimmune thyroid diseases together!
Have you ever had Graves’ disease or any thyroid complications? Feel free to share with us in the comments section your own experience with these types of diseases.
Up Next: Parathyroid Disease | What You Need to Know About Hyperparathyroidism
Editor’s Note – This post was originally published on October 23, 2017 and has been updated for quality and relevancy.