Graves’ disease is the disorder of the thyroid caused by the immune system mistakenly attacking your thyroid gland and causing it to over secrete thyroxin. It is the leading cause of hyperthyroidism in the world. It’s also the one responsible for general thyroid problems in most developed countries.
Who Can Get Graves Disease?
This disease is more common in women who are over twenty years of age because of their active hormonal secretions.
The immune system usually uses proteins which occur naturally called antibodies and white blood cells which assist in eliminating antigens such as viruses, bacteria, and other foreign substances that could invade your body. In Graves’ disease, the system wrongly attacks the thyroid gland but does not necessarily destroy it, the thyrotropin receptor antibody stimulates the thyroid making it secrete excessive amounts of thyroid hormone which eventually leads to Graves’ disease. Doctors are not too sure why the immune system attacks the thyroid gland, though they believe it could be a combination of reasons such as heredity, sex, age, and stress could be responsible for the development of Graves’ disease.
Symptoms for Graves’ disease are many and diverse. They include the enlargement of the thyroid gland, frequent bowl movements, very light menstrual periods, increased perspiration, irregular heart beats, fatigue, anxiety, and irritability. Your eyes could also exhibit Graves’ ophthalmopathy which means your eyes bulge out beyond the normal protective orbit causing excessive sensation and tearing of grit or sand in your eyes, as well as swelling of the lids and tissues around the eyes and reddened or inflamed eyes. These are the typical symptoms of Graves’ disease.
It’s hard to stop your immune system from attacking the thyroid gland thus leading to Graves’ disease. Treatment for this disease is only meant to decrease the secretion of thyroxine or block its action. The best medication for this purpose are beta blockers for example propranolol, atenolo, metoprolol and nadolol. These usually help to reduce the hyperthyroid signs and symptoms. These beta blockers are always used with other forms of treatment. Anti-thyroid medications are also used to prevent the production of excessive hormones. The other treatment involves radioactive iodine treatment. The radioactive iodine collects in the thyroid gland and destroys the overactive thyroid cells.
Apply cool compresses to your eyes for Graves’ ophthalmopathy. This added moisture soothes the eyes. Wearing sunglasses reduces the irritations of your eyes from the wind. Lubricating eye drops also relieves the dryness and scratchiness on the eye surface. Elevation of the head lessens fluid accumulation.
Any signs of enlarged thyroid, protruding eyes, anxiety, intolerance to heat, tremor and weight loss, are very clear signs that you urgently need medical assistance.