Graves’ disease is an immune system disorder that leads to over production of thyroid hormones.
Thyroid hormones regulate many body systems and hence the effect of Graves’ disease on body varies. It is not fatal and generally affects women below 40. The aim of treatment is to reduce severity of associated symptoms by reducing thyroid levels.
Symptoms of Graves’ disease
- Anxiety, irritability
- Excessive fatigue, sleeplessness
- Fine tremors on hands
- Changes in menstrual cycle
- Irregular heartbeat
- Weight Loss
- Enlarged thyroid glands
- Erectile dysfunction
- Increased perspiration and heat sensitivity
- Bowel disorder
Graves’ dermopathy: It’s a manifestation of grave’s disease that results in thickness and redness of skin over feet.
Graves’ ophthalmopathy: 50% of patients suffer with another associated symptom called Graves’ ophthalmopathy, wherein the tissues near the eye get inflamed. Its symptoms include:
- Bulging, irritating and dry eyes
- Excessive tearing
- Grittiness in eye
- Restricted eye movements and fixed stare
- Puffy red eyelids with pain
- Diminished, blurred or double vision
- Sensitivity to light
- Corneal ulcers
Causes of Graves’ disease
- Idiopathic malfunctioning of immune system causes the Graves’ disease. The immune system of affected individuals produces an antibody called thyrotropin receptor antibody or TRAb that counters the effects of the protein found in the cells of thyroid gland.
- The TRAb overrides the effective regulation of the thyroid gland by pituitary gland. This results in the excessive production of thyroid hormones leading to hyperthyroidism.
- Graves’ ophthalmopathy causes: Even though the exact cause is unknown, studies reveal that TRAb antibody is attracted to the tissues surrounding the eyes, and causes inflammation.
Treatment of Graves’ disease
- Radioactive iodine therapy: Oral intake of radioactive iodine destroys the excess cells in thyroid gland that produce hormones.
- Anti-thyroid medications: The ability of the thyroid gland to produce hormones by using iodine is limited by these medications.
- Beta blockers: It is used for blocking the effects of excess thyroid hormones thereby alleviating muscle weakness, anxiety, cardiac conditions etc.
- Surgery: It involves removal of thyroid gland which may lead to a lifetime of thyroid replacement therapy.
- Grave’s ophthalmopathy can be treated with corticosteroids or by orbital radiotherapy or eye surgery.
Graves disease pictures