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Studies show that approximately 2 to 3% of the population in the United States—10 million individuals—suffer from Graves’ disease. Named after Robert Graves, an Irish physician who described the disease approximately 150 years ago, Graves’ disease is a disorder in which the thyroid gland produces more thyroid hormone than is needed by the body. Also known as toxic diffuse goiter, Graves’ disease is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism.
Graves’ disease is caused by a process in the body’s immune system during which the antibodies created by the lymphocyte blood cells bind to the surface of thyroid cells, stimulating them to produce an overabundance of thyroid hormones. This results in an overactive thyroid and ultimately forces the body’s immune system to act against itself.
The symptoms of Graves’ disease are slow to progress and become apparent, and also vary from person to person. However, the most common symptoms associated with the disease include:
- Fatigue or restless sleep
- Weight loss
- Anxiety, nervousness, and irritability
- Heart palpitations and tachycardia
- Increased sweating
- Muscle weakness
- Changes in the skin, hair, and nails
- Enlarged thyroid gland
- Blurred vision, double vision, eye swelling, and redness of the eyes
- Shortness of breath
- Decreased menstrual cycles
Graves’ disease may be treated through the use of antithyroid drugs such as methimazole or propylthiouracil, radiotherapy, or surgical intervention. When considering treatment, be sure to discuss your options with your physician to determine which treatment method best suits your needs.
The Center for Graves’ Disease at Sunrise Hospital & Medical Center is the only facility in the greater Las Vegas area that offers specialized treatment for patients with Graves’ disease. Visit our website for more information on treatment options or to schedule a physical consultation, or contact us at (702) 731-8000.