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Grave's Disease

Grave's Disease is a condition caused by hyperactivity of the thyroid gland. Due to hyperthyroidism, a person appears nervous and anxious. This is due to the higher metabolic rate set by overactive thyroid. The body's immune system is triggered. Typically Grave's disease affects women in the age group of 20 - 40 years.


Symptoms of Grave's disease include enlarged thyroid gland, rapid heartbeat, nervousness, anxiety and difficulty in sleeping. A person suffering from Grave's disease experiences increased sensitivity to heat and moist skin. In cases of Graves' ophthalmopathy, the eyes may appear reddened or inflamed. There is increased sensitivity to light and the eyes may experience excessive tearing. Other symptoms of Grave's disease are weight loss without loss of appetite, bulging eyes and enlarged thyroid gland. Patient suffering from Grave's disease may have increased sweating, hand tremors and muscular weakness. Women may have infertility problems.


Blood levels of thyroid hormones - thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and thyroxinecan help in identifying Grave's disease. A short course of radioactive iodine helps in reducing the hyperactivity of the thyroid. This treatment shrinks the thyroid cells. Sometimes the thyroid is removed, in part or completely. Anti thyroid medications such as propylthiouracil and methimazole are prescribed to reduce the production of thyroid hormones.

Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism is a condition that occurs when there is too much thyroid hormone in the body. The hormones thyroxine and tri-iodothyronine are produced by the thyroid gland and play a major role in determining the body's metabolic rate. When there is excess amount of thyroid hormones, it will lead to a faster metabolism resulting in hyperthyroidism. Hyperthyroidism occurs when thyroid cells trap excess iodine and produce excessive thyroid hormone. Sometimes the cause is damaged or inflamed thyroid cells. A person suffering from hyperthyroidism experiences excessive sweating and rapid heart rate (palpitations) and tremors. Such persons may notice loss of weight and extreme fatigue. These symptoms appear gradually and may sometimes go unnoticed. A person suffering from hyperthyroidism may feel nervous and notice muscle weakness. Women who are suffering from hyperthyroidism tend to have light menstrual periods or may even miss few cycles. Hair becomes brittle and skin becomes warm and moist. A person may appear agitated and confused. Patients suffering from hyperthyroidism often notice swelling at the base of the neck.


Thyroid Scan is used to measure the activity of the thyroid gland with radioactive substance. The blood TSH levels are measured to check for increased production of thyroid hormone. Graves Disease is an autoimmune disease that results in an overactive thyroid gland. This in turn leads to hyperthyroidism. Thyroiditis or inflammation of the thyroid gland is yet another cause for hyperthyroidism. Goiter or toxic nodule on the thyroid gland can be another cause for hyperthyroidism.


Anti thyroid drugs are used to control the production of thyroid hormone. These drugs include methimazole (Tapazole) and propylthiouracil (PTU). Radioactive Iodine treatment for hyperthyroidism involves a pill or liquid that is administered to the patient so as to ablate a hyperactive gland. Radioactive iodine therapy destroys only local cells and is generally given as a one-dose treatment. It is essential to monitor this treatment since it may lead to destroy too many thyroid cells and even lead to hypothyroidism. This treatment for hyperthyroidism is not used on pregnant or lactating women. Surgery is used to remove thyroid gland but this procedure is not without possible complications. Removal of too much tissue leads to hypothyroidism and often nerves connected with the vocal chords might be affected.



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Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: November 11, 2019