In 1835 Robert J. Graves first described “Graves’ Disease” in a patient and in 1840 it was described in another patient by Karl Adolph van Basedow. Dr. Basedow did not know that it had been previously named so therefore in Europe it is called “Basedow’s disease” and in America, it is known as Graves’ disease.

Graves’ disease is a type of autoimmune problem that causes the thyroid gland to overproduce thyroid hormone of which is called hyperthyroidism. There are many types of Autoimmune diseases it is unknown what the cause of this disease is but seems to be a genetic connection and is more common in women than in men.

The immune system creates antibodies that cause an enlarged thyroid and as a result, it makes more thyroid hormone than is normally produced. Thyroid-stimulating immunoglobulins (TSIs) are antibodies that bind to the thyroid cell receptors, which are normally a “docking station” for thyroid-stimulating hormones (TSH) and their primary function is to stimulate the thyroid. Unfortunately, the TSIS literally tricks the thyroid and results in too much thyroid hormone being produced causing hyperthyroidism.

Graves’ disease is a little more complicated to diagnose without a blood test because its symptoms resemble other diseases. Some of the initial symptoms can include but not be limited to:

  • Weight loss- despite an increase in appetite
  • Anxiety, irritability, insomnia, and just a sense of restlessness
  • Chest pain, increased heart rate, and shortness of breath
  • Sensitivity to heat and increased sweating
  • Irregular menstrual periods and temporary infertility
  • Difficulty in controlling diabetes
  • Light sensitivity in the eyes, excessive tearing, red eyes, and a sense of dirt or grit in the eyes. (Graves’ ophthalmopathy)

Because the symptoms can be mild, and we do not always connect the dots it is a normal protocol to have your thyroid levels checked once a year during your normal physical given by your primary. If your levels come back high, it is best monitored by an Endocrinologist like the highly experienced and cutting-edge professionals at The Center for Diabetes and Endocrine Care.
If Graves’ disease is left untreated the symptoms become more noticeable and can cause more harm to other organs of the body such as:

Goiter: A enlarged thyroid caused by the overproduction of TSH is called a diffuse thyrotoxic goiter. The thyroid gets bigger and bigger and becomes noticeable as the neck becomes fuller or look swollen. Swallowing can become difficult and causes coughing.
The eyes begin to protrude from the eye sockets (orbits) due to Graves’ disease-causing an inflammatory response in the eye muscles. Once the swelling of the muscles and tissues in the sockets become swollen the bones that hold the eyeballs in place become unable to do so. It can make it difficult for you to move your eyeballs as freely and could look like you are staring.

Pretibial Myxedema: Graves’ disease also can affect the skin that covers the tibia bone in the lower leg. The disease can cause patchy lesions that are usually pink or red.

Call one of our doctors or staff members at The Center for Diabetes and Endocrine Care to help you manage your over active thyroid (954) 963-7100