Graves’ disease is an autoimmune condition in which the body’s immune system overstimulates the thyroid causing it to produce large amounts of thyroid hormones. It is hereditary and is preceded by Hyperthyroidism. About 25–40% of Graves’ disease patients show signs of a clinically relevant Graves’ ophthalmopathy (inflammation and bulging of the eyes). However, Graves’ disease accompanied by moderate to severe Graves’ ophthalmopathy, only occurs in fewer than 5% of patients.
Women under 40 years of age are especially prone to developing Graves’ disease. Smokers are more likely to have Graves’ disease and are more likely to have eye problems than non-smokers.
Consequences of Graves' Disease
This disease can go unnoticed for a long time, but you may experience some of the following symptoms:
- Fast heart rate
- Nervousness and/or irritability
- Difficulty sleeping
- Weight loss without dietary change
- Muscle weakness, especially of the upper arms and thighs
- Increased sweating
- Frequent bowel movements
- Lighter or less frequent menstrual periods
- Trembling hands
- Thinning of the skin
Symptoms of Graves’ ophthalmopathy include:
- Red or inflamed eyes
- Tissue swelling around the eyes
- Bulging eyes
- Very rarely, diminished or double vision
Source: Thyroid Aware and American Thyroid Association.
Note: Nitek has developed more effective treatment protocols, for graves, that increases (doubles) the chance of medications working, rather than resorting to surgery (Partial Ablation).