Named after the doctor who discovered the disease, Graves’ Disease is the most common form of
Hyperthyroidism. Hyperthyroidism can be defined as an “overactivity of the thyroid gland.” Both men and women have thyroids, but woman- specifically those who are between the ages of 20 and 40- are more prone to suffer from this disease.
The thyroid, which is positioned underneath the larynx in a person’s neck, has a very important role in a human body. It produces two hormones known as thyroxine and triiodothyronine. These two hormones regulate a person’s metabolism. Your metabolic rate controls your weight, your energy levels, and even your moods.
When a person suffers from Hyperthyroidism, their thyroid produces and releases too many thyroxine and triiodothyronine hormones into their bloodstream. This overproduction can lead to a host of physical problems, as well as significant changes in a person’s appearance. The problems are often spasms in the hands, weaknesses in the muscles all over the body, an accelerated heart beat, fatigue, insomnia, sensitivity to heat, frequent bowel eliminations,
Physically, a person who is affected by Graves’ Disease may notice a drop in their body weight, even though they are not dieting. They may also notice that their eyeballs have developed a bulging or protruding appearance. And, this disease can also cause a sufferer to produce a red, bumpy skin condition on the shin parts of their legs. However, this last physical condition has only been seen in rare cases of Graves’ Disease.
The symptoms of Hyperthyroidism can take a long period of time to appear. In fact, you may have the disease and not know it since the symptoms are commonly seen in many other illnesses in the medical world. A simple blood test is used to determine if a person has Graves’ Disease or not. The test determines the amount of thyroxine and triiodothyronine in the blood. A high amount of these hormones usually points to a thyroid disorder.
Although there is no cure at this time, there are three known treatments for Graves’ Disease. The first is drug therapy. A group of medicines known as “Antithyroid drugs” can be prescribed to a person who is suffering from the effects of this illness. These drugs alter the thyroid so it quits producing too many hormones. If this type of drug therapy is successful, the Graves’ Disease can go into a state of remission.
The second treatment is known as “Radioactive Iodine” and it’s a bit more radical in nature. The Radioactive Iodine treatments actually destroy the thyroid gland. The downside of this treatment is that the patient will then need to take hormone pills for the remainder of their lives. Since, of course, the thyroid no longer able to function.
The third treatment for Graves’ Disease is surgery. In this case, the thyroid gland is completely removed. Just like the Radioactive Iodine option, the person will then need to take hormone pills for the remainder of their lives.
Once a treatment is administered, you’ll need to visit your doctor on a regular bases for additional blood tests. The tests will show the levels of hormones in your blood and if they are in the normal range.
After the thyroid disorder has been treated and is under control, some of the lesser symptoms of Graves’ Disease should diminish so the person who is affected by the illness can lead a more comfortable life.
Graves’ Disease or Hyperthyroidism is rarely a fatal ailment. However, if it is left untreated, it can cause additional health problems and conditions. If you think you may have this medical condition, especially if thyroid problems run in your family, you should consult your medical doctor.