Graves’ Disease

What is Graves' disease?

Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disease that damages the thyroid gland. Graves’ disease affects more women than men. It is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid gland). Symptoms of Graves’ disease may include bulging eyes, weight loss, and a fast metabolism. Hyperthyroidism due to Graves’ disease is treatable with medicine.

What are the symptoms of Graves’ Disease?
  • Bulging, irritated eyes
  • Irritability or nervousness
  • Heat sensitivity
  • Trouble sleeping, insomnia
  • Shaky hands
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss without dieting
  • Goiter
  • Tiredness or muscle weakness
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Skin thickening and reddening on the shins and feet

What is the treatment for Graves’ Disease?

There are three main treatments for Graves’ disease:

  • Antithyroid medicine. These medicines keep the thyroid gland from making too much thyroid hormone. They are often given to patients before thyroid surgery or radioiodine therapy.

  • Radioactive iodine (RAI). RAI is a type of iodine that destroys thyroid cells so that your thyroid gland cannot make as much thyroid hormone. This cures the overactive thyroid gland, but it can lead to underactive thyroid gland. If this happens, you will need to take thyroid hormone for the rest of your life.

  • Surgery to remove all or most of the thyroid. As with RAI, surgery cures overactive thyroid but can lead to underactive thyroid.

Who can help diagnose/treat Graves’ Disease?
  • Primary Care Physician (PCP)
  • OB/Gyn

Additional Resource(s)