Clinical Pearl of the Day: Graves’ Disease
Graves' disease is an immune system disorder that results in the overproduction of thyroid hormones (hyperthyroidism).
- Although several disorders may result in hyperthyroidism, Graves' disease is a common cause.
- Although Graves' disease may affect anyone, it's more common among women and in people younger than 40 years of age.
- The primary treatment goals are to reduce the number of thyroid hormones that the body produces and lessen the severity of symptoms.
- Symptoms may include anxiety, fine tremor of the hands and fingers, heat sensitivity, weight loss, enlargement of the thyroid, erectile dysfunction, and bulging eyes.
- Causes: Graves' disease is caused by a malfunction in the body's disease-fighting immune system. It's unknown why this happens.
- Risk factors: Age, family history, physical stress, pregnancy, and smoking.
- Diagnosis: Blood test, radioactive iodine uptake, ultrasound, and imaging tests.
- Treatment: Radioactive iodine therapy, anti-thyroid medications including methimazole (Tapazole), propylthiouracil, and beta blockers.