What is Graves disease?
Graves disease is an autoimmune ailment characterized by a metabolic imbalance resulting from overproduction of thyroid hormones (thyrotoxicosis). It is named after Robert Graves, the 19th century Irish physician who first discovered the condition. In Graves’ disease, the thyroid gland in the neck is diffusely enlarged and hyperactive, producing excessive thyroid hormones.
Graves’ disease can have an effect on many parts of the body such as the nervous system, eyes, skin, hair.
What are the symptoms of Graves disease?
There are numerous symptoms of Graves’ disease and hyperthyroidism. These include but are not limited to:
Goiter — The most popular symptom of Graves’ disease is goiter, an enlargement of the thyroid, with reactions that can include a visibly larger neck, a feeling of fullness in the neck or throat, discomfort with ties or scarves, a feeling like the thyroid is vibrating, a choking sensation, pain or tenderness in the neck or hoarseness.
Weight Changes Usually patients lose weight without change in diet or exercise, or they experience dramatically increased appetite without any weight gain. Some people lose so much weight and stop eating, or eat so little, that they may be mistaken as anorexic. Some people actually stop eating, or eat very little, and are considered anorexic. In some cases, women, especially teenagers, have actually been mistaken as anorexic, due to rapid, dramatic weight loss, when the actual problem was the onset of Graves’ disease. A small percentage of patients actually gain weight with hyperthyroidism because they increase their intake to such an extent that the increased metabolism does not compensate.
Pregnancy Problems — Difficulty in pregnancy, in particular, weight loss during pregnancy, or frequent nausea and/ or vomiting can be a symptom of thyroid problems. Rapid weight loss after pregnancy can also be a symptom of hyperthyroidism.
Temperature Problems — Some people with hyperthyroidism feel warm or hot when others are cold, or feel warm all the time. They may run a low grade fever, sweat more, or feel thirsty.
Heart and Blood Pressure Changes Symptoms include racing, fast heartbeat, sensation of a “loud” or pounding heartbeat, skipped beats, palpitations, or abnormal heart rhythms.
Gastrointestinal Problems Symptoms include frequent bowel movements, loose bowel movements, diarrhea, more frequent urination, or nausea.
Energy / Muscles/ Joints — Hyperthyroid symptoms include extreme fatigue, muscle and joint tiredness especially in leg and arm muscles, difficulty climbing stairs, exercise intolerance. A percentage of hyperthyroid patients actually have more energy, and feel like they need little sleep, and feel a need to exercise.
So to sum it all up the symptoms of Graves disease are:
A irregular heartbeat
A fine tremor of your hands or fingers
An increase in perspiration
Sensitivity to heat
Weight loss, despite normal food intake
Enlargement of your thyroid gland (goiter)
Change in menstrual cycles and
Frequent bowel movements
What is Graves disease?