“Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disease that affects the thyroid. The thyroid is a small gland in the front of the neck. It makes hormones called T3 and T4 that regulate how the body uses energy. Thyroid hormone levels are controlled by the pituitary, which is a pea-sized gland in the brain. It makes thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), which triggers the thyroid to make thyroid hormone.”
“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.”
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.
Now there are three ways to deal with this disease:
1. Taking medication ( which is how I started to deal with it)
2. Injecting Radioactive Iodine into the thyroid to destroy the thyroid
3. Nutrition and Exercise with Herbal Supplements
There is no cure
Graves Disease was another bump in the road but it’s not something I let define me. I chose to be in control of my body. It took a while to control my Graves Disease symptoms and while medication has helped I have recently tried for a more holistic approach. I’ve eliminated lots of foods, try to eat organic, exercise, and try to reduce stress. It’s important for me to have a strong immune system.
There’s not a direct cause of Graves Disease but autoimmune disorders do run in my family.
Getting diagnosed with Graves Disease has allowed me to become fully aware of my body and what I was putting into it.
If you suspect you or a loved one has Graves Disease please seek out immediate care.
Here are some great books that I’ve read for more information: