Grave’s Disease and How It Affects Your Thyroid Health

Hot Health
By Hot Health August 25, 2017 20:07

Grave’s Disease and How It Affects Your Thyroid Health

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Grave’s Disease

Named after a 19th-century Irish physician, Robert Graves, Grave’s disease is an auto-immune condition where the body produces too much thyroid. Originating from the thyroid gland, this condition can have severe effects on various parts of the body including the eyes, hair, skin and nails as well as the nervous, reproductive and digestive systems.

The condition is identified as the hyperactivity of the thyroid gland where it produces too much of the thyroid hormone. It is mostly witnessed in women as compared to men and generally develops between the age of 20 and 40 years. It is usually characterized by the formation of auto-antibodies that stimulate the gland by binding the receptors in the thyroid membrane.

What are some of the symptoms of Grave’s disease?

Since Garve’s disease includes the hyperactivity of the thyroid gland, its symptoms are similar to those of hyperthyroidism. These include nervousness, enlarged gland, weight loss, excessive sweating and heat tolerance, palpitations, diarrhea, tremors, swelling of the tissues    behind the eye leading to the protrusion of the eyeball and an increase in the metabolic rate of the body.

Complications in case of Grave’s disease can prove to be fatal and may cause kidney, heart and liver failure. Commonly known as the thyroid storm this condition may be created by a sudden stressful event and accompanied by symptoms like fast heart rate, high fever, vomiting, delirium, high blood pressure, extreme irritability and coma.

What happens if the condition is not catered to?

The Grave’s disease can create a case of severe thyrotoxicosis. The heart complications and the psycho-cognitive complications arising from the condition cause morbidity in the body. Hyperthyroidism leads to an increased metabolic rate in the body leading to amplified energy expenditure and breakdown of muscle protein. In some, enlargement of the heart muscle, also known as Cardiac hypertrophy, and irregular heartbeat is also witnessed. It is perhaps these abnormalities that lead to the myopathy and sarcopenia often observed in individuals suffering from Grave’s disease.

The excessive production of the thyroid hormones in the body also leads to psychiatric manifestations such as anxiety disorders. It is genetically transmitted and so women with untreated conditions are at the risk of transferring the condition to their offspring. Any progression of ophthalmopathy may lead to vision problems and eventually blindness.

How is Grave’s disease caused?

A majority of researchers support the claim that Grave’s disease is caused when a viral antigen in the body sets off the immune system and attacks the thyroid gland. It might also be caused by the modification of T cell antibodies. This condition is easily influenced by genetic and environmental factors.

How is Grave’s disease tested?

The diagnosis of Grave’s disease involves one or two simple tests. But the method and the following procedure may vary from physician to physician. Since Grave’s disease is a serious medical condition, many physicians prefer to perform multiple tests to double check the severity of the condition and find any underlying condition, if exists. To diagnose Grave’s disease, the blood is checked for levels of thyroid hormones and any abnormality in these levels depicts the presence and severity of the condition.

What are some of the treatments for Grave’s disease?

Currently no medication is available that can cure the disease. However, medications are prescribed to curb the symptoms of the disease and curtail the activity of the thyroid gland. The most common medication used to achieve this is Beta-blockers. These work on controlling rapid heartbeat, tremors and nervousness. The body produces the same amount of hormones as earlier but the influence of the beta-blockers blocks the activity of some of these hormones. Beta-blockers are generally used in combination with other medications.

Tapazole is an anti-thyroid medication which aims at preventing excessive production of hormones. The typical time required for this treatment to show its complete effect is at least one year and may sometime extend to two. This may create a long-term remission of the condition but the relapse is common. Tapazole and similar drugs are used in contrast with radioactive iodine treatment or surgery and work at controlling the symptoms of Grave’s disease.

Why the radioactive iodine treatment?

The body utilises iodine to produce thyroid hormone. Any radioactive iodine consumed by an individual is stored in the thyroid gland and the radioactivity of the iodine collected in the gland over time kills the overactive cells. As a result, the thyroid gland shrinks and the problems are gradually decreased. However, this treatment brings with itself a risk of visual impairments. While these impairments are usually mild, the treatment is not recommended to anyone suffering from moderate to severe eye problems.

What is the next option?

If your body does not respond to the anti-thyroid medications and you are unwilling to undergo the iodine treatment, you can opt for a surgery to remove the thyroid gland. As a result of the surgery, however, it will become essential for the body to host thyroid replacement hormone to compensate for the normal amounts of hormones required by the body to function properly.

Risks of Surgery: Removal of the thyroid gland can potentially damage the vocal folds and the parathyroid glands. Any damage done to the vocal folds may interfere with the voice and speaking ability of the individual while any damage done to the parathyroid glands may lead to an abnormal amount of calcium in the blood.

Grave’s disease may also incur effects in the eyes of an individual. These effects require other kinds of medications, eye muscle surgery, orbital decompression surgery or a particular type of glasses to control double vision. The treatment protocols to be followed are decided on the basis of the individual’s overall health and the severity of the disease.

Hot Health
By Hot Health August 25, 2017 20:07
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