Graves’ Disease - Dream Health

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Monday, 24 November 2014

Graves’ Disease

Graves’ Disease – Autoimmune Disease

Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disease which affects the thyroid which is a small gland in the front area of the neck. It creates hormones known as T3 and T4 which regulates how the body utilises the energy and the thyroid hormone levels are controlled by the pituitary.

 This is a pea sized gland in the brain which makes thyroid stimulating hormone – TSH that enables the thyroid to make thyroid hormone. With Graves’ disease, the immune system tends to make antibodies which act like TSH making the thyroid to produce more thyroid hormone than what is needed by the body.

This is known as an overactive thyroid or hyperthyroidism and an overactive thyroid affects every function of the body in speeding up like the heart rate as well as the rate wherein the body turns food into energy.

This disease is the result of overactive thyroid and is closely related to Hashimoto’s disease which is another autoimmune disease that affects the thyroid.It could run in families and can occur at any age though it is most common in women in the age group of 20 – 40.

 Smokers are more likely to develop this disease. Being an autoimmune condition, the immune system tends to mistake something in the body for a toxic substance and attacks it.

Overproduction of the Thyroid Hormones

In this condition, it attacks the thyroid gland leading to an overproduction of the thyroid hormones. What triggers the immune system to do this is not known and like several autoimmune conditions it is presumed that a combination of both genetic as well as environmental factors would be responsible.

Some people suffering from Graves’ disease may also have their eyes affected where the tissue behind the eyes tends to get inflamed and swollen causing them discomfort and bulging in one or both the eyes.

At times it could also cause double vision which is known as Graves’ ophthmopathy and these symptoms could occur before or at the same time or after the other symptoms of the disease begins to show up. Eye problem often tends to get better without much treatment.

Factors Responsible for Graves’ Disease

Factors responsible for this disease may include Genes wherein some people are prone to this disease due to their genes. Emotional stress or trauma could also trigger this disease, pregnancy also affects the thyroid where 30% of young women who suffer from Graves’ disease have been pregnant in the 12 months prior to the onset of the symptoms which indicates that pregnancy could trigger Graves’ disease in some women.

Sex hormones also play a role which could explain why Graves’ disease affects women more than men. Infection too is responsible in the onset of Graves’ disease though no studies have shown it to be directly the cause of this disease. Graves’ disease can be treated through drugs which helps the thyroid from making too much thyroid hormone.

Radioactive iodine – RAI, treatment can be helpful wherein a pill which contains RAI is swallowed which is a form of iodine that damages the thyroid by giving it radiation and destroys thyroid cells where less thyroid hormone is produced.

Through surgery where most or the entire thyroid is removed though one would need to take thyroid hormones to replace the needed thyroid hormone which the body no longer produces.

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