Graves' Disease (cont.)
In this Article
- Graves' disease facts*
- What is Graves' disease?
- What are the symptoms of Graves' disease?
- Who gets Graves' disease?
- What causes Graves' disease?
- How do I find out if I have Graves' disease?
- How is Graves' disease treated?
- What could happen if Graves' disease is not treated?
- Does pregnancy affect the thyroid?
- Do I need a thyroid test if I become pregnant?
- I have Graves' disease and want to have a baby. What should I do before I try to become pregnant?
- How is Graves' disease managed during pregnancy?
- Can I breastfeed if I am taking antithyroid medicine for Graves' disease?
- For more information about Graves' disease
- Find a local Endocrinologist in your town
What is Graves' disease?
With Graves' disease, the immune system makes antibodies that act like TSH, causing the thyroid to make more thyroid hormone than your body needs. This is called an overactive thyroid or hyperthyroidism. An overactive thyroid causes every function of the body to speed up, such as heart rate and the rate your body turns food into energy. Graves' disease is one cause of overactive thyroid. It is closely related to Hashimoto's disease, another autoimmune disease affecting the thyroid.
What are the symptoms of Graves' disease?
Most people with Graves' disease have symptoms of an overactive thyroid, such as:
- Goiter (enlarged thyroid)
- Trouble sleeping
- Irritability or nervousness
- Heat sensitivity, increased sweating
- Hand tremors
- Rapid heartbeat
- Thinning of skin or fine, brittle hair
- Frequent bowel movements
- Weight loss without dieting
- Fatigue or muscle weakness
- Lighter menstrual flow and less frequent periods
- Problems getting pregnant
Unlike other causes of an overactive thyroid, Graves' disease also can cause:
- Eye changes. For some people with Graves' disease, the tissue behind the
eyes becomes inflamed and swells. This can cause bulging or discomfort in one or
both eyes. Sometimes it affects vision. Eye symptoms can occur before, at the
same time, or after other symptoms of Graves' disease begin. It may rarely occur
in people with normal thyroid function. We do not know why these eye problems
occur. They are more common in people who smoke, and
smoking makes eye symptoms
worse. Eye problems often get better without treatment.
- Reddening and thickening of the skin, often on the shins and tops of the feet. This rare skin problem is not serious and is usually painless. Most people with this skin problem also have eye problems from Graves' disease.
Symptoms of Graves' disease can occur slowly or very suddenly and are sometimes confused with other health problems. Some people with Graves' disease do not have any symptoms.
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