Additional Conditions

Picture of Graves Disease

Picture of Graves Disease

Graves' disease is an autoimmune condition that results in overstimulation of the thyroid gland. The resulting hyperthyroidism causes difficulty sleeping, sweating, tremors, goiter, irritability, fatigue, racing heart, weight loss, infertility, and more frequent bowel movements. The eyes may also become inflamed and appear bulged.

People with Graves' disease are more likely to be women, often in their 20s and 30s, when the illness first manifests. There is a genetic component to Graves' disease, and people with it are more likely to have other autoimmune disorders such as lupus, vitiligo, rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, Addison's disease, and pernicious anemia. Stress, infection, and pregnancy are other factors which may play a role in the development of Graves' disease.

Graves' disease is diagnosed with the help of lab tests including those for thyroid function and antibodies associated with the condition. A radioactive iodine uptake (RAIU) test may be performed to check for Graves' disease. Increased uptake suggests the presence of the condition.

Graves' disease may be treated with medications to suppress the production of thyroid hormone, by destroying the thyroid gland with radioactive iodine (RAI), or by removing the thyroid gland surgically. Complete removal of the thyroid gland is called a total thyroidectomy. Treatment with a beta-blocker medication does not treat Graves' disease, but it can help treat the symptoms like racing heart and nervousness.

Image Source: Color Atlas & Synopsis of Clinical Dermatology Klaus Wolff, Richard Allen Johnson, Dick Suurmond Copyright 2005, 2001, 1997, 1993 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All Rights reserved.

Text Reference: "Graves’ Disease Fact Sheet." Office on Women’s Health.