A Look at Graves’ Disease

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Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disorder affecting over 10 million people. Although this disease is usually non-life threatening, it can result in a wide range of cardiovascular and musculoskeletal problems if left untreated. Learn more about this potentially serious condition with this overview from the only Graves’ disease treatment center in the Las Vegas area here at Sunrise Hospital & Medical Center:

Symptoms

Hyperthyroidism, or overactivity of the thyroid, accelerates the entire body’s metabolism, resulting in increased weight loss, fatigue, anxiety, brittle hair, and more. In special cases, Graves’ disease has also been known to affect the eyes and skin in the following ways:

  • Graves’ disease ophthalmopathy can cause irritation and swelling of the eye tissue, causing pain, redness, and swelling, possibly leading to vision damage.
  • Pretibial myxedema involves a thickening of the skin in front of the shins, giving it a lumpy, red appearance.

Although these latter two conditions are rare, they can lead to chronic pain and permanent disability.

Risks and Causes

Graves’ disease occurs when the immune system begins producing antibodies that mimic the effects of TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone). Anyone can develop this condition, but Graves’ disease research shows that it is most common in women between 20 and 40 years of age; in fact, it affects 10 times more women than men, and approximately 30 percent of affected women were pregnant within the preceding 12 months. Graves’ disease mimics many of the same hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy, so it can be difficult to identify without consulting a specialist.

Treatment Options

Graves’ disease is treatable through medication or surgery, depending on your individual health needs and the possibility of pregnancy. However, it may be necessary to continue taking thyroid suppressants or supplements for the rest of your life. Any issues in the eyes or skin will have to be examined by an ophthalmologist and dermatologist.

The Center for Graves’ Disease at Sunrise Hospital is the only institution in the Las Vegas area specializing in this debilitating condition. Learn more about the symptoms of hyperthyroidism and other medical conditions with our iTriage Symptom Checker app, and call our Consult-A-Nurse healthcare referral line at (702) 233-5474 for more information.

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